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History and Philosophy of Education, 12:00PM
Music Education (Choral)
Essentialism and Progressivism
The first day I walked into my high school choir room, my choir teacher asked the students to write down a list of 100 things that they wanted to accomplish before graduating high school. As I began to write my list, several thoughts came to mind. I wanted to become a better singer, composer of music, conductor of a choir, and travel internationally. I remember the last day of high school, as I referred to the list that I had written four years previously. I soon recognized that over 50 of the things that I had written were accomplished. This specific activity influenced my life greatly, and gave me motivation to set goals and accomplish them. As I prepare to become a teacher, I acknowledge a powerful teaching philosophy at work: Progressivism. I too plan to use the Progressivism philosophy in my classroom. I am also inspired to teach using the Essentialist philosophy. With these two philosophies that stress the facts and relevance to the real world, I strongly believe that I can become a Professional Influencing Lives.
As a music educator, I must teach the facts; Essentialism does just that. This teacher-centered philosophy “strives to teach students the accumulated knowledge of our civilization through core courses in the traditional academic disciplines” (Sadker & Sadker, 2005). Music is a core course because it is the creative culmination of all core courses. Music teaches math by understanding the rhythmic sub-divisions of meter. Music teaches foreign languages, because some songs are in French, German, and Italian. In fact a majority of basic music notation is not in English. Music teaches science by way of acoustics and frequencies. Music has numerous advantages that cannot be neglected, so its presence in a tradition academic discipline is necessary. In this back-to-basics philosophy, it is important that I, the teacher, serve as the intellectual and moral role model for students(Sadker & Sadker, 2005). An example of essentialism in the classroom is to study a different great composer of music each week. This list would include great musicians of the past such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. Every week I would prepare a presentation/lecture on a composer and present a test at the end of the week testing their knowledge. This lecture would include topics such as the composer’s life, music, and where their music is present today. This would be reverting back to the basics so that they are culturally aware of these great composers who have had an enormous impact on our society. There is also a list of 9 standards for music education from the Music Educator National Conference that outlines the items that should be apart of any music education curriculum. By teaching using the Essentialism philosophy I can make sure that the basics are covered and a solid foundation will be laid.
Another philosophy that I strongly agree with is progressivism. Progressivism “organizes schools around the concerns, curiosity, and real-world experiences of students” (Sadker & Sadker, 2005). This philosophy is student centered and I feel that it is of the utmost importance. When it comes to teaching music, I am a strong believer that even though you are teaching the facts it is important that you make the facts relevant. The best way of making it relevant is to find out about the student and his or her interests and proceed with the back-to-basic lesson while incorporating their interests. A classroom activity that coincides with the Progressivism philosophy would be for students to listen to a lecture on the topic of rhythmic meter. Then have the students bring in some of their favorite music and discuss the meter of their selected song. As I reminisce about my high-school experience, I remember bringing in some of my favorite music and discussing all of the musical elements that we had discussed over the semester that were present in my music. This was Progressivism at work.
My philosophy would be a hint of Progressivism dominated by Essentialism. Society has taken a shift to what is relevant rather than what is important or essential. I, however, advocate that it is imperative that the focus be re-shifted. The essentials must be taught first and foremost, and then comes relevance. Seeking out the student’s interests only enhances the essentials. By using this mixture of philosophies in my classroom, it is my prayer that I become a Professional Influencing Lives.
Sadker, M. P., & Sadker, D. M. (2005). Teachers, schools, and society. New York: McGraw Hill.
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