Sunday, November 12, 2006

(Music) Education Must Embrace Change

Like Will Richardson, I am frustrated these days about the seeming lack of interest among many in the education profession to evolve and to adopt the many rich resources available to transform the profession (and the learning of our children)!

Educational Research bears this out. Findings often reveal that change in Education moves at a snail's pace if at all. This is SO unfortunate as we are living in the most amazing of times for meaningful and authentic education to take place in our schools via the use of technology as tools for learning. If only......

  • teachers would stop thinking about e-mail and web tools as 'optional'
  • teachers would continue to be learners
  • technological tools would be explored, adopted and used to transform teaching and learning
  • administrators and school districts would stop categorizing the entire internet as "dangerous"
I originally explored the problem of the process of schooling in my Master's thesis in 1999. I saw a disconnect between school and the 'real' world. I was interested in learning if this was the case for students. Indeed, it was. As cliche as it may seem, student's enjoyed recess, lunch and gym the best. Why?? These are the only places where students feel at least somewhat in control of their environment and outcomes at school.

The problem is only getting worse IF schools and teachers do not begin to adopt the technologies that students are learning about and using everyday at home. Two years ago, I wrote an article entitled The Case for Technology in Music Education which was published in Massachusetts Music News. The paragraphs below contain modified excerpts from the paper. It is interesting to note that not a single Web2.0 application had emerged from beta before the writing of this article. Another article will explore Web2.0 applications for (music learning).

....Music specialists need to understand that what they do (read, write and perform music) is accessible to anyone, anywhere today. Schools are not the only places where students can be exposed to music in a performing or especially, a creative context. It used to be that school was the place where students could get musical training (outside the church) particularly in band or chorus. However, there is more to music and music literacy, than playing in a band or singing in a
chorus-especially since the majority of students in schools are not part of these organizations.

Technological innovations in music have allowed for the same kind of opportunities for general music students. The tools a teacher uses at school to teach can be purchased and used by a student at home,now (audio editors, music learning software, sequencers, Mp3 players, etc.). This notion of decentralization levels the playing field for students and teachers and expands the possibilities, definition and role of music programs-enriching them and students for the better. Nowadays, our non-band and non-chorus students can also become musically literate. Given the tools mentioned above and students rampant love of music (their own music, of course), they just might educate themselves despite us. The great divide between home and school is transcended when these forms of teaching and learning are embraced and the number of students touched by the process has the potential to grow

Technology, taken as a whole and projected onto the educational scene has the potential to irrevocably change the role of all teachers and learners. Music teachers must heed this suggestion, in particular, because of music's close historical relationship to technology and its overweight dependence on nostalgic, band-and-chorus-based music making in American schools.

These statements are not as nihilistic as they seem. Music teachers should continually assess how technology for teaching can be made more effective. It is still and always will be the student's task to learn but the teacher's job will be to lead students to where learning can take place including those places that exist outside the classroom (ie: the internet, blogs, wikis, etc..). No teacher can be as dynamic and ever-present as a software program or the world wide web. Nor can every teacher effectively tailor every lesson to the needs of every music student but technology makes it much simpler to do just that!

By embracing music technology students can learn in their way in their own time while exploring interests close to their hearts and by becoming musically literate in the process. In so doing, the music classroom begins to appear much more like the real world.

No comments: