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#16512 06/14/02 12:39 AM
Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 6,296
Carpal Tunnel
Carpal Tunnel
Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 6,296
I agree that some of the Virginia standards are questionable. However, the state regularly examines its standards, and they are changed periodically.

I'm going to paste here my general philosophy of music education for anyone here to examine and respond to. I have to have it polished as part of a professional portfolio (a huge undertaking to be completed by July 24th). I offer this philosophy in hopes that any of you may react to problems with it that you identify. No thin skin here. I've given a lot of thought to the writing of it as the introduction to the portfolio, but it is a starting place. And I do welcome reaction. Here it is:

Philosophy of Teaching

Theresa Ranson
June 9, 2002

Education begins from the time an infant socially interacts with parents, relatives, and

friends to the end of conscious life. Formal education builds upon the sensibility each child has

developed during these social interactions. Students come into the classroom expectant, nervous,

sometimes belligerant, but each having the shared hope that the place into which he enters will

provide something new of interest, something reassuring of safety, and somewhere conducive to

friendship. It is in the control of the teacher to provide an environment that is physically rich in

ambience, one that speaks to each of the senses, and one that is original, pleasant, and

comfortable. The physical environment of the classroom requires careful planning by the teacher in

order for materials to be easily available, for visual aids to be well in view for each student, for

students with special needs to receive consideration, and for the execution of speedy room

rearrangement to be possible when needed.

Perhaps most important in the creation of an environment that students welcome is the

teacher's design of situations in which students may interact in cooperative learning groups.

Vygotsky (Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological

processes), in his brief but brilliant career, documented studies in the early twentieth century in

which students learned from each other in a process he called scaffolding, a process that moved

beyond the traditional lecture format. I believe that the essence of his work, the scaffolding of

knowledge shared among learners, has developed into current studies in the advantages of

cooperative learning groups. When cooperative learning activities are developed with attention to

group cohesiveness, to authentic learning outcomes, and to levels of challenge that are interesting

yet achievable, students learn more. These activities require a great deal of preplanning by the

teacher, but student involvement is generated and learning becomes more widespread for all class


My own field is elementary music education. The Virginia State Department of Education

dictates music standards of learning to be taught at each of the elementary grade levels. Broadly

included in the standards are singing, dancing, playing of instruments, and reading of notation.

These standards provide the framework upon which I build my educational goals. I believe musical

performance of student work is the best possible motivator for student attainment of displaying the

standards in action, and I provide numerous opportunities for my students to sing, dance, drum, and

play recorders to a variety of audiences.

The best single method of documenting student achievement I have come across is use of

the videotaped performance, both as a means for students to examine and evaluate their own work

and as a way for them to critique and learn from past student performances. I have witnessed

sometimes stunning growth in my students' performances that I credit entirely to their analysis of

past performances, their setting of their own performance goals to equal or surpass past student

achievements, and their desire to receive praise from their audiences.

Students respond well when teachers make connections between units of study and the

world that exists beyond the school yard. In music, these connections are easier to make when the

music comes out of the student's contemporary culture. However, it is by far more difficult when

music is foreign to the student's experience. It is part of my responsibility to help students find

bridges between the music of the past and their own experience. In kindergarten, for instance,

students listen to Chopin's two piano concertos. My task is to help learners make the bridge

between Chopin's world of Romanticism and the sensitive one of their own limited experience.

However, these young children are very much in tune with their feelings and can readily identify a

variety of feelings and situations that have aroused them. The bridge is the heart and its language,

Chopin's music illustrating deep emotions typical of the Romantic period as one side of the bridge,

and the child's own experience of emotions forming the other. Teachers do well to take subjects

immediately out of the classroom into the living world and into the world of the past in order to help

students flesh out subjects and to make them real.

Although I offer a wide range of listening experiences to my students, I place most

emphasis upon student performance itself. I believe students learn most by doing, particularly

students who have problems in processing information strictly by reading and listening. I also

believe students learn most by duplicating actual performance habits of professional musicians.

Any technique I either read about or witness in the performances of professional musicans that may

be practiced in the classroom, my students will emulate. Again, this strategy builds the connection

between the classroom and the outside world. The two worlds become unified.

My mission is to develop and enhance my students' musical skills and abilities, based in

the state standards for each level, but, more important, to increase their awareness that music and

the lives of musicians are part of the fabric of our world's way of widening and deepening

communication of the mind, the heart, and the soul through an often complex, but always emotional

aural medium. The ways in which these children learn to communicate the message of the song, of

the drumming routine, of the dance, of the performance of a recorder melody to their audiences

parallel the methods of professional musicians. The beams and braces students place in the

scaffolding of what is communicated from individual, ensemble, or chorus to audience and from

musician to musician become part of the structure students will inculcate in many, if not most, of

their future musical communications inside and outside of the classroom. We hear, we think, we

feel, we perform, we hear performances, but, finally, we are connected to each other through the

mystical workings of music, the universal language and one of the ultimate emotional bridges

in communications among people.

#16513 06/14/02 12:54 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,400
Carpal Tunnel
Carpal Tunnel
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,400
i am in awe. One phrase particulary struck me.
I also believe students learn most by duplicating actual performance habits of professional musicians.

i have a friend, who says, for him a career in science began in HS, when in biology, a teacher greeted each student at the door of the lab, and had them don lab coats..

"clothes maketh the man" was never truer, than in that class for him. in a lab coat, he could see himself persuing a life of science.. putting on the lab coat let him try putting on the career, and he liked the fit.

the effect might not be the same on everyone, but i suspect, doing what you do, letting children "try on" careers is a wonderful thing. letting them see in them selves a possiblity.. but even if only one child in 1000 is so effected, what an effect!

#16514 06/14/02 02:55 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 2,605
Carpal Tunnel
Carpal Tunnel
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 2,605
lovely by each of the two preceding posters.

#16515 06/14/02 09:20 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,526
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,526

If you're including this as part of a portfolio, I think you need a few (very minor) edits.

It's not something I would write (too mushy), but I enjoy your relaxed, semi-conversational style. It strikes me as very sincere. It's a nice piece. You might consider submitting it for publication.

I agree with the gist of the emphasis, too. Music and performing arts are about communication. (Theoretically, if students learned in PE classes what PE teachers claimed they were learning in them, that too would be at least partly about communication.) I'm not sure how much data is really available, but I know there has been some work done showing a correlation between musical training and mathematical ability. Further, as I mentioned previously, recent studies show our prisons to be populated largely with people who are not analytical learners, but kinesthetic learners who just might be reached by this. Not that you *should* necessarily mention these (and certainly not without looking into a bit yourself). I'm not really sure what my point is, except that these various mechanisms for communicating might be related - individually in our brains and collectively in our society.

I don't know. Anyway, thanks for submitting that. It's good.


#16516 06/14/02 05:26 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,400
Carpal Tunnel
Carpal Tunnel
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,400
directly after my post, keiva posts
lovely by each of the two preceding posters.

trick 1,keiva tries to show that we are in agreement or somehow linked.

he is free to, and post his own opinions all the time,, but he is still using his tricks..
his wife tell me i should be thankful and happy that keiva is so nice to me, no one is nice to her. she doesn't understand why i don't want to be sweet talk to by him..

but i am an adult, and i reserver the right to chose for myself who my friend are. and i dislike saccarine post that are intended to mislead. i am not fooled by this sweet talk, don't you be either.

#16517 06/16/02 08:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,526
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,526

kids short attention spans (so *nicely designed by the tellie)

I'm not sure. I like television. I especially enjoy watching television with my kids. But it's a very different thing for us than it "may be" for others.


I saw a report the other day which I'm inclined to accept because it agrees with both my prejudice and my experience. They examined children who watched violent TV shows and then tested the kids about how they felt about using violence to resolve issues. Unsurprisingly, the kids who watch voilent programs were more likely to think it was okay to initiate violence (compared to the control group). OTOH, they repeated the experiment, but this time they had parents talk to the kids about the violence they saw. Miraculously, the kids who saw the violent programs were no more likely to think initiation of violence was okay than those who did not see violent programs.

<= end of detour

I've been convinced for a very long time based only on my intuition about it and prior to having read anything on the subject, that much of what kids learn whether directly (acceptability of violence) or indirectly (short attention span) is the failure of the parent to interact with the kids regarding what they watch. I watch lowly shows all the time with my kids and they have very long attention spans and stay out of trouble at school. I've also played some really violent video games with them - still no problem. I'm not passing a judgement here on people who elect not to let their kids watch crap. I sympathize with them and am grateful (as a member of the larger society) that they are actually thinking the problem through and making an effort to do the right thing by their kids.

In general I get a lot of out watching tv with my kids and talking with them about what they see. And I think they're getting a lot out of it as well.

When my youngest was 4 I took her to a rated R movie (that one about the last dragon where sean connery does the voice - don't remember on what basis it took that rating). I've even made a point of watching Howard Stern and Jerry Springer with them - not on a regular basis, but enough to let them see that part of the world. While we're watching, I'm commenting "Do you think that was a good thing to do? Was there something else they might have done instead? Is that solving a problem?"

A good argument could be made, I think, that it would be better to teach kids these things from, say, the great classics of literature. I'm reading W&P as I mentioned previously (and this really could be the greatest novel ever written), but I think my kids would have been too bored by this - even the condensed version - when I started the process. (Just a guess.) Also, people read these stories all the time and don't learn from them. I *do* love this book - the sycophantic prince vasili who weasel's private gain from other's misfortunes, the gossipy Anna Mihalovna who uses rumor and innuendo to sew discord (but always with the most noble intentions, she believes, but really to maintain her position in society), the young rostov who keeps imagining himself a great hero on the battlefield, but habitually fails to live up to his ideal of himself (but then reinvents his failure into success when he tells his story), the bungling Pierre who wants to do the right thing, but is so incompetent from a youth squandered in dissipation that he can't get it right ... well, I love this, but it's so abstract sounding ... to a child. I mean adults can read this stuff and say, "Oh, yes, I get it! This is marvelous!" But then they go right out and act like Prince Vasili or Anna Mihalovna. That's because in real life, the process of embracing evil is gradual. (I think Tolstoy has this right over Dostoyevsky.) (My 9 yo asked me last year to read A Tale of Two Cities to her, one of my favorite books, but I've held off partly because I don't want her to suddenly get bored with it - and I want her to really get into the characters.)

I can watch the Springer stuff with them and they see it immediately and they understand in their bones. "Daddy, he's very bad." "Well, he's not acting very charming is he?" "No. Not at all."

Having a few examplae non gratiae is arguably a convenience for "reality-based" parenting, but why is it necessary to have 24 hours of continuous crap? And for that I offer no explanation. The vast majority of what is on is not stuff I find remotely entertaining.

I'm reminded of an incident with my oldest. I used to get home really, really late. If my kids were up, one would lay in front of me facing the tv on the couch, while the other would lay atop. On this occasion, the youngest had already gone to bed and the oldest (maybe 6 to 10 at the time) and I were watching Beavis and Butthead about midnight or so. It was one where they go to see a medium. She looks in her crystal ball and says, "I see you are not ze A students." BnB are not impressed. "And I see you are not ze B students." BnB are slightly alarmed. "And I see you are not ze C students!" BnB are utterly amazed now. My daughter turns her head to me and says, "Daddy, I love Beavis and Butthead, but nobody's that stupid. Not really." Poor kid. I didn't have the heart to tell her.

Aside from the refutation of bad examples, though, I think the television has helped my kids in their vocabularies. They learned a lot of made-up words from their mom. The freezer is "the frozen place" and the shade is "the shadow place." That's fine, but they failed to learn common words like "drapes" and "cupboard" (really, no kidding) and so forth. Playing games with them has helped a lot in this, but also I think they've learned a heck of a lot of common vocabulary by watching television.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you. I'm uncertain, but my bias is to think that it isn't that television is the culprit by itself - it's that people are using the tv like a baby-sitter. Kids need interaction. TV by itself just isn't going to be able to do this (well, not now anyway).


#16518 07/01/02 12:59 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 475
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 475
I was badly failed by the hotchpotch bodgeup they call the LEA as were most of the special needs children that were shunted around units with me. I honestly believe in fully comprehensive schools, with no child being excluded from any particular school based purely on their personal religion, wealth, or academic achievement. Having been to a church school, a hospital unit, a selective school, a girls school and an inner city comp I think they all could have been improved by a little bit of diversity of intake. Schools need to be place where kids learn skills like reading or woodwork, surely, not religion or their 'place' in life. Children who could achieve high academic standards can be failed in the comprehensive system by the scarcity of resources and the absence of similarly able peers. Conversely, kids in special interest schools can be failed by their exclusion from the rest of the world which, lets face it, they're going to have to live in eventually. I think if we stop categorising children at five or seven or eleven they might surprise us with what they can achieve, and what they can make of the world once it is in their hands. Many of the kids I went to school with left with no qualifications and now are rotting away on the dole or in the factory, including myself. The world is losing out on the contributions they could have made given equality of opportunity. Pool the resources I say.

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