Reform

Parenting and teaching —- a personal summer reflection

There’s no greater luxury in the world than the knowledge that your children are cared for by warm, intelligent, humorous, and kind teachers.

Each start of a new school year the privileges and good fortune our family enjoys by being able to send our children to work with incredible teachers who are dedicated to nurturing young people as well as our community becomes more and more clear. Similarly, the meaning of schooling and the value of it continue to shift profoundly as what is your life’s most important priority is taken into the care of others.

Parenting and teaching copy

Of course, this sort of personal realization is not an entirely new or unique concept for any who work in education. Being both a teacher and a parent affects my views and undoubtedly all parents recognize a shift in their perspective on schooling as their children move from grade to grade. Surely all who care for children parents or otherwise, recognize new insights and meanings of school as life moves through its various stages.

That said – for me…

…being a parent of young children continues to open up new perspectives on schooling that are at the same time heart-felt, visceral, and intellectually fresh. For example, watching my children go through school is:

  • Heartfelt = It’s a bittersweet feeling watching as they find new degrees of independence and stretch themselves further out into the world
  • Visceral = I learn what it means to literally “swell with pride” as they take courageous new steps towards new experiences and overcome challenges and obstacles in their path towards being functional members of a new community
  • Intellectual = I am constantly fascinated by the growth in information processing ability and new schema they acquire as they demonstrate more sophisticated skills, knowledge, and conceptual understanding

This perspective brings vividness to…

…the consequences of policy decisions that impact the atmosphere of a school from the macro-structures of community embeddedness and curricular design to the micro-details of daily routines and classroom activities.

This fluctuating and evolving worldview is especially interesting to me given the apparent disconnect between such meanings and values of schooling and the perspectives often present in national discussions of school reform. Most discussions of policy and systemic change seem to only rarely be cast from a point of view of care or stewardship of any sort. In contrast, our discussions seem most often drenched in political hyperbole that emphasize insufficient standardized outcomes and are bereft of local community values.

My guess is that the condition of schooling would be better off if reforms were considered from heartfelt, visceral, and intellectual perspectives that come with the sorts of priorities described here rather than from the detached and politicized ideological rhetoric of many publicized reformers. I am grateful and reassured that many of my colleagues in music education and others in the arts in particular embrace a similar perspective and only hope that such perspectives continue to become more prominently communicated to stakeholders and the public-at-large.

Here’s to a heartfelt, visceral, and intellectually stimulating start to the school year for all.

 

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Ed Policy and Music Teacher Preparation

This weekend I had the opportunity of co-presenting a session on embedding educational policy issues in music teacher preparation coursework at the bi-annual Symposium on Music Teacher Education in North Carolina. It was a pleasure to work with our newest Jacobs School of Music music education colleague, Dr. Lauren Kapalka-Richerme and IU JSOM alumna, Dr. Carla Aguilar who is currently coordinator of music education at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado.

This is us enjoying the day! And here is a link to our presentation slides: Aguilar, Miksza, Richerme – Policy – SMTE – 2013.

Also, check out the SMTE Policy ASPA Facebook page here: SMTE POLICY

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The Future of Music Education: Continuing the Dialogue about Curricular Reform

I’m excited to report the publication of a recent article I wrote for the Music Educators Journal titled: “The future of music education: Continuing the dialogue about curricular reform”

The heart of this article is captured in the opening quote: “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” Alfred North Whitehead

In this article I highlight several trends regarding critical arguments that have recently been raised when discussing the secondary large-ensemble tradition in the public schools. In support of secondary school ensembles, I argue for a discussion of curricular reform that avoids polemical rhetoric, straw men, and hasty generalization. I also suggest taking special care when considering the incorporation of new technologies and popular music idioms in music education curricula.

I describe how critical energies might be redirected to what I see as urgent needs for the profession such as:

  • Directing advocacy efforts towards increasing access to music education for underserved populations of children
  • Focusing advocacy efforts towards enhancing support for foundational elementary music experiences
  • Transforming teaching to maximize what’s possible from within the large-ensemble model without needlessly tearing it down by:
    • Increasing the breadth of comprehensive musicianship experiences possible
    • Increasing the degree of individual student empowerment
    • Broadening the range of collaborative approaches to music-making that teach­ers and students could engage in
    • Broadening the inclusiveness of repertoire in large-ensemble curricula

After briefly, yet sincerely, acknowledging the certain need to expand curricular offerings for music in the secondary schools, I close with the following:

“…it will be necessary to cultivate dispositions of patience and reflection with visions of curricular transformation if we hope for significant and lasting changes in the nature and quality of music education for all.”

Please check out the full article here (free to all NAfME members – or email me if you’d like to read it):

Miksza, P. (2013). The future of music education: Continuing the dialogue. Music Educators Journal, 99, 45-50.