The Place of Music in 21st Century Education

Today’s lecture was all based on the watching the online videos which were all part of Dr James Humberstone’s MOOC in the University of Sydney. All videos about how 3 different schools incorporated technology in a different situation and approaches. These three schools were; Northern Beaches Christian SchoolKamaroi Rudolf Steiner School and Hilltop Road Public School.

Northern Beaches Christian School:

Northern Beaches Christian School has a very different educational approaches to other schools. They started with the huge innovations in using spaces at school. School is where the students spend their most time of the day and everyday life. The value of “student first” and “student agency and student curiosity” directed them to create school spaces with lot more emphasis and relate to their value. They have catered the classroom so that first, the space provides the comfort in various activities, flexibility of using the spaces and use of “blank spaces” which was quite sensational to myself – to wake up our minds, we need spaces. All students had Bring Your Own Devices rule – which my practicum school (Cammeraygal High School) also had. It is very effective way for teachers to not ‘directing’ their learning but ‘guiding’ them.

Their music classroom/ school is very based on the ‘collaborative learning’. One of the method they use is combining two classes together with two teacher in the room. This challenges not only the students but also the teachers. They always get challenged by new groups of students and the other teacher’s style of teaching. The key way of starting/teaching this massive groups of students is to divide them in to “bands” for the gigs. Each groups will have 7 students in a rotation system. Then, the ‘stations’ are used as moments for each teacher to check that they are on the right track. This means that teacher can focus more on the individual learning rather than focusing as class since they only have to focus on 7 students each time. This was very interesting since we have been highly challenged by individual catering in classes. And it was also interests to watch since this is something I have observed/taught in my practicum school. When I went to the school year 8 were given an composition assignment where they had to be small groups of their wish and compose any sought of music and record them, similar to the direction of the Northern Beaches Christian School. After 3 weeks of advising each groups individually and teaching some general compositional methods on the software, the amount of development and the products were quite amazing. However, I did face quite a few difficulties; since there was no limit with numbers of people in each group, sometimes I could spot that one person was doing all the works and others weren’t. Sometimes teenagers got sick of each other/ or had a little fight and did not wanted to work with each other anymore. Sometime they had few stylistic argument and ended up with nothing. I am very interested to find out how teacher solved these problems in the Northern Beaches Christian School.

Every stations from the school are highly supported with various technology. They have a “Creation Station” and “Jam Station” where each station has MIDI, mics, leads, instruments and recording materials. Hence, in lesson, students are dealing and experiencing extensive amount of technology, which is almost like a second nature to them. Cammeraygal High School also had a ‘studio’ where students were free to go in and record under the teacher’s provision and they also had a little DJ club for students who are not so engaged in school learning. I have seen lots of students getting involved and producing music with programmes which I only just found out how to use it this year. The amount of engagement and development I observed was quite amazing.

 

The second school was the Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School – which was very different to the previous school.

“Steiner education provides enjoyable and relevant learning through deep engagement and creative endeavour, to develop ethnical, capable individuals who can contribute to society within initiative and purpose.”

I enjoyed hearing that they put a lot of focus on the ‘human nature’ therefore, art and music is included in every subject from the lower years to senior years as a tool of learning. This was a very interesting approach since the research argued that music develops various parts of the brain that are used for maths, collaborative learning and creativity. However, I am not sure whether the classes are just too ‘free’. With my personal experiences as a student, I enjoyed lot more constructive lessons, where I sit down do my work with clear instructions on what to do. Maybe it’s just myself feeling more comfortable in a structure lesson since I was brought up in those cultural learning setting. It does not mean that the school doesn’t have constructive lessons, but I do feel like it is an essential need for teenagers for at least for some classes.

I was also quite interesting to hear their approach with use of technology. Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School is a “screen-free” environment in their younger year and they finally introduce use of technology in the senior year. The reason behind this is that they want students to build certain sense of correct use in technology before they jumping on to it. I do see where they are coming from and I do think it is important, but I feel like just abandoning technology is not the solution of education. As we saw in the Northern Beaches Christian School, technology is not only a internet itself, it is more then that and teachers have ability to set it up and simplify it so that it reduces students going off track and have problems. Maybe introducing new sets of technology (other than just internet) each year might work with their approaches. The amount of students engagement and digging for new sources are quite remarkable in their music learning. I have learnt so many new websites which can be used to create various musical ideas by my year 8 classes from the practicum school. And those students were the students who had some more help with their learnings.

The Hilltop Public School was very similar to the Cammeraygal High School – where they put lots of emphasis into the ‘project based learning’ and ‘student organised learning environment’ with each students bringing their own devices into each class. While I was doing my prac, I had chance to observe not only music classes but other subjects such as History, English, Math, PD/H/PE and Arts. Like Hilltop Public School, they cared a lot about collaborative learning and sharing informations. Students were already trained to share their thoughts, ideas and class notes and they were combining it into the Google doc, which was shared in their Google Classroom. Then the teacher will also go into the same document and write comments in different colour so that it was quite obvious for students to see. I was quite surprised how student centred learning can be approached and it’s effectiveness.

In my own opinion, technology is our student’s second nature and it’s something that they all enjoy using and feel interested. Hence, it is important for us (teachers)  to continuously study on technology so that it can be used effectively in appropriate ways in the classroom.

 

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