In a world that places a premium on individuality, education stands out as a place where conformity and continuity are the accepted norm. Whatever their dreams and desires, students are placed in educational tracts where very little room is afforded for individual skills and interests.
Despite varying abilities, students in a given class are given the same texts, administered the same tests, and complete the same homework assignments. While we often hear about the individual child, our school systems are structured in a way that confines and constrains learning because of this "one size fits all" approach.
Except in music…
In music, personal ownership and educational individuality is a common as varied as the instruments, and the people who play them. In most music classes, the traditional barriers of age and curricula tracts give way to place each child where they will experience success and then challenge them to reach for more. Students can rise or fall as high or as low as their talent, work ethic, and desire will take them. Students who work harder in music are afforded greater musical challenges and performing opportunities. Conversely, students who struggle are given challenges equivalent to their skills.
Whether due to part assignment, ensemble placement, or outside opportunity, the result is the same; each student is in charge of his or her own educational experience, both inside your class and outside as well. Those who seek leadership are given greater responsibilities. Honor ensembles are in the offering for those willing to commit to extra practicing. Private lessons are readily available to children of all skill levels. Small ensemble festivals can place even rudimentary players in skill appropriate ensembles.
In most curricular ares, the outcomes and objectives are clearly prescribed. The scope, sequence, and schedule are set in stone and are not easily adjusted for any class much less any individual child. But with the curse of discrimination (last week’s newsletter) comes the blessing of opportunity.
In short, a student's musical education and experience is largely what they choose to make of it. And isn’t empowering student learning what education is all about?
As I said last week, with every curse comes a blessing, and this blessing opportunity outweighs the curse on inequality.
Have a great week!