0108: #Creativity Awareness = Motivation, Humanization, and Success
#education #SOSchat #artsed
I currently teach music, choral and music appreciation, to grades 7-9. It can be a joy and/or a great struggle. Music is an interesting subject matter alone, but can easily cross over into other subject matter not pertaining directly to music. Of course, there is poetry that accompanies the melodies. Songs and styles of music are situated in a certain area, culture, situation, social movement, what have you. Music embodies or at least reflects the historical situation that caused the piece to spring forth out of someone’s consciousness. Music involves acousti-physics and all forms of mathematics. Best of all there is no test. It can be a hiding place for revolutionaries in schools who want to teach beyond the curriculum and allow their students freedom to learn. It’s a place that builds or can build tremendous self-discipline and allow for intellectual and spiritual exploration. Critical thought can be allowed to thrive in a classroom that is free from the oppression that is testing. I taught algebra prior to teaching music. I’m able to be much more human without the test, and still remain sympathetic to my friends and colleagues who remain steadfast in their dual challenge to prepare their students for the test and still strive to teach and build critical learners. It’s difficult, I know. My heart is with you as you struggle.
I have begun the process of teaching music composition to one of my music appreciation classes. This is not a part of the state curriculum; the State seemingly does not concern itself, even in a music classroom, with nurturing creativity. Regardless of prescribed curriculum, it is beyond important that humans discover their ability to create. This is, after all, one of the greatest parts of being human. We possess a tremendous intellect that permits us to create and transform culture. We often need reminding of our ability to create culture. I cannot express the light I saw in Anthony’s face when he brought his staff paper to the piano with some scribbled chords he had written and heard me play what he had written. Anthony is not an average student academically, he struggles in every subject, and spends most of his time in ISS or the principal’s office. He’s beat down and discouraged, he acts out. I got to witness and great moment of humanity and awakening when I saw him arrive at the understanding that he created culture. This goes far beyond behavioral success and efficacy. This enters the realm of metaphysical transformation in a seventh grader with a bad attitude.
All teachers don’t get the privilege or have the desire to teach in the arts. It’s a difficult field. It, like algebra, takes persistence and great persuasion. It’s frustrating. It does allow for creation though on a regular basis. We all know that moment of genesis though, in any course, when a student become more than a passive recipient and enters the realm of creator. It can be as simple as the moment a learn formulates a question based on their own synthesis and analysis of a topic. It can be the designing of a complex or simple equation. Writing a story. A poem. Whatever. Regardless of our subject matter, we must help our students realize that they are creators and transformers of culture. This is how we make them participate more. This is how we help them realize their potential. We have to let them see their own power. They are cultural creators. We have to make that understanding a priority, tests be damned. Teachers are on the front lines of a strange war for the consciousness of a people. We have to give those in our care the tools to be masters of themselves and their worlds. Teachers teach for awakening.
0033: Notes from an Education Underground (teachers become radical please)
#teaching #edreform #revolution
We must move beyond things that are only quantifiable. Our people are being neglected as we focus more and more on quantifying their intelligence. Teachers and students are forced to work mindlessly. Critical thought and the human spirit are being neglected. Students are leaving schools semiliterate and unprepared. We are working toward an undefined and nonexistent goal. We are simply a consumer culture. Do we want a mindless future. Or an underclass?
The value of the arts. The production of culture. The transformation of an individual through the creation of culture thereby transforming a community. We are a spiritually impoverished nation. Beauty and truth unnoticed because of the focus on empiricism and survival. The wasted time in classrooms. Students are neglected because there is no time to explore. Can we look for life in our students? It’s when they’re fully engaged in something meaningful. It’s when they’re given power. We need radical teachers. We need bureaucracy to be lessened in schools. Teachers need to be quality, but so do the people and policies policing them. Learners need to be free. Teachers need to be radical. Good teachers step outside the boundaries of what is expected. They connect with their students as people not students. Teachers empower and lead because they are good people who care and are intelligent. Teachers are and should be radical. The predicament we are in requires a a radical change. Our country needs a revival of arts and beauty and truth. We are poor. The daily grind no longer serves to help our people. We need a breath of spirit. No longer can we toil away in factories. We must innovate and join together. We need a change. Rather, we must demand a change. Let our souls be acknowledged and then awakened. There is life to be had.
We must see to it that the status quo is upset, because it already has been. Our education and culture and grasp of beauty is famished, and so will be our people.
Our youth are innovators, but education is not meeting that inquisitiveness. Schools are wasteful places where children learn to wait in lines and hide their cell phones while ignorant teachers numb their minds as theirs have already been numbed by countless directives from blind administrators. This must change. The school must change. The best work I did as a teacher is when I engaged the learners in my care in dialogue. Whether they were 8 or 18. Our intelligences sharpened each other. We worked together. The curriculum stands as a guide, but in reality is a step by step manual. Is there a step by step manual to becoming more fully human? If you say yes than my words a null and so is the concept of freedom. Freedom is an unexplored concept in our culture and our schools. We are killing America.
0026: Cheers to the pissed of teachers trying to work miracles in impossible situations
I’ve hit a wall, I think. I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel the way I do about my teaching practice and I came across a lovely blogpost entitled “Sh!t Arne Says” (http://teacher-anon.blogspot.com/2011/09/sht-arne-says.html?m=1). The following quote was cited:
“We also want you to enjoy so many other enriching experiences that are so important to a complete education. We know you have great music, art, and physical education teachers at your school, and we believe that these subjects are essential for a well-rounded curriculum. And so is recess. We want you to have fun!”
An Open Letter from Secretary Arne Duncan
and Karen Duncan to Their Children
The blogger went on to describe her daily schedule with her kindergartners which looked nothing like the utopia Duncan described. Her daily schedule reflected no time for any activity besides language, literacy, and math. All important, but nothing experiential. I urge you to read her post (link attached above). Her students receive nothing but the basics. And, that’s not fair. The blog post made me comfortable. It reawakened me to my everyday teaching situation over the past five years which has been very similar. I have taught only in extremely high poverty areas where test scores are becoming the most important thing to district and school leaders because they are so low. The kids I have taught have had few experiences outside what Teacher-Anon. refers to as “sit-down-shut-up-listen-and-remember” education. That’s what is enforced by administrators. I’ve been lucky to spend my last two years teaching as a specialized arts teacher. The other years I taught algebra. Teaching in the arts has given me the opportunity to have a class that’s something of a haven, but it’s also given me the opportunity to see what’s really going on in other academic classes (I’m utilized as a literacy coach quite often as that was my graduate focus). And what do I find but “sit-down-shut-up-listen-and-remember” education, which actually has a negative impact on arts classes as they have either been just playgrounds where students run wild, or the kids have never been engaged in focused work so they are completely afraid to participate. I am lucky to get to teach children to engage in their own learning. However, arts should not be the only classes where this type of engagement is permitted. It should be across the board.
My problem is that I know there are kids who receive quality, engaging, and enriching education daily. They just aren’t the kids I’ve taught. They’re generally more affluent children. At least, that’s what I’ve observed. I’m at a breaking point, and I’m torn. I don’t want to abandon ship, but this ship is sailing nowhere. The kids I teach deserve the energy and privilege the kids across the proverbial tracks get. They deserve to be engaged. The people who make the decisions need to visit the classrooms that are bending and collapsing under the pressure of NCLB and other measures. There needs to be a reckoning of the great disparity between the education quality given to the rich and poor. I don’t know how to fix it, but I’d like to help.