What are some ways forward for technology and cultures around digital technology in education, specifically music education?
There are a few paths we could take…
- No digital technology until we think students are mature enough, as modeled in some Steiner schools, such as Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School.
- Fully embrace students’ knowledge of digital technology and reinvent our classrooms, as modeled by schools like Northern Beaches Christian School.
- Find a blend based on the students we have in front of us and their experiences with digital technology.
Obviously, the third path is what I’m motivated to work towards, so which ideas would I borrow from Kamaroi and Northern Beaches?
- Open teaching spaces with classroom furniture that encourages collaboration. WHY? The world may be flatter, but we still need to connect with the people next to us. Technology should be used to enhance connections not break them.
- Student ownership of learning and giving the students the ability to move on with their learning when they are ready. WHY? Student agency is a great motivator in the classroom.
On that note it’s worth your while to take a look at this TED talk about architecture being greatly influenced by what kindergarten students can (and want to) do. This video makes me want to make a list of all the things I do in my music classroom that gives my students joy and makes them want to create music, as well as to see what I can tap into to create a more engaging environment for my students.
I’ve just returned from a conference in the Philippines (EARCOS- East Asia Regional Council of Schools) where I saw a host of inspiring music teachers share their views of best practice, and one statement kept coming up “Everything you do in your classroom should be musical, this is music class after all!”. So how are Kamaroi and Northern Beaches creating that kind of environment?
- Through using the Orff approach, every action in music class at Kamaroi is musical.
- Through taking away as many digital obstacles as possible, the students at Northern Beaches Christian School are able to rehearse, make and record music easily.
A possible way forward for music teachers interested in taking the third path and create a musical classroom could be to initially follow an Orff approach, with limited teacher talk, then gradually incorporate simple digital technologies to enhance the Orff experience (e.g. creating loops using an app like Keezy). This could be followed with students using the same techniques to create their own music.
Tezuka, T. (2014). The best kindergarten you’ve ever seen. [Website.] Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/takaharu_tezuka_the_best_kindergarten_you_ve_ever_seen 10th April, 2016.