Archives for March 2016

3 Reasons Music and Arts Education is a Shining Light in a School System that Values “Sameness”

Kinhaven 2014-422Somehow, some way, our school system has become completely standardized — yet our children are anything but that.

Instead of valuing children as individuals, our school system has designed itself to measure children against one thing — an average.  Students are ranked by comparing their performance to the average student in their grade.  Even grades and test scores are compared to an “average” ranking when applying to college.  A constant comparison to mediocrity abounds in our schools — and schools therefore strive for mediocrity as a “safe haven” from punitive measures by government and even community members.

Most of us truly understand that a standardized test score or GPA isn’t what defines our children.  But this concept of comparing our kids to an average yardstick has been beat into our skulls for decades, and I am shocked that more of us don’t question it more seriously.

The truth is, not only is mediocrity and average a dangerous thing to strive for, no human being is truly average or mediocre.  Yet schools can’t help but to design their curriculum this way — except for when it come so the arts.  Thank goodness teachers of the arts have always recognized that children have unrecognized and untapped potential.  They know that students do not get the chance to show what they are truly capable of in most of their classes, and they provide them ways to do so.

Here are 3 reasons music and arts education escapes “teaching to the middle’ in our education system:

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3 Ways It Takes a Community to Develop Great Music Program

IMG_4672I have had the pleasure of meeting thousands of music educators while speaking at our nation’s music educator conventions this year. These teachers all are consistently and passionately engaged in looking for ways to develop themselves as educators and musicians.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of students learned to play an instrument for the very first time through their school program this year.  But if history is any indicator, more than half of these students will quit come next school year.

We can change this course of history — I believe we have a better chance to do this now than at any other time, in fact.  This is because we finally are hearing the words “creativity” and “innovation” creeping into  conversations regarding education from politicians, administrators, and educators.  This is a moment where music education has a chance to enter the limelight as a tool to enhance our children’s educational experience — as long as everyone is on board.

Here are some action steps stakeholders in our schools system need to take in order to ensure all students experience music throughout their K-12 education:

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3 Ways Music Instruction in Schools Teaches Grit (and Why Children Need it So Badly Now)

Kinhaven 2014-112The “self-esteem movement” in this country is coming to an end.  We have learned that giving a trophy to all kids just for participating hasn’t worked, and — even worse — has undermined the natural grit that our nation is built upon.

We are also at a crossroads in education, where people are starting to finally wake up to the fact that passion and perseverance matters more than intelligence when it comes to being successful.  Hard work and stick-to-itiveness trumps “talent” and “good genes” every time, and usually gets most of us to where we want to be in our life and in our work.  Grit is what we want our children to cultivate during their time in school, not just good test scores.

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