There’s a chance I’m years behind on this one, but I had a thought today that high school music classes are on a hiding to nothing.
The syllabuses works towards a particular kind of assessment that is, effectively, based on performance and theory exams, given a bit of a tweak for the purposes of fitting in with the other subjects. Even when ensemble performances are part of the assessments the emphasis is on the individual performer rather than the group achievements or the learning that has taken place to bring the performance into existence.
High school music classes are just a kind of AMEB or ABRSM exam on steroids with a different marking system.
So when high school music teachers think about contemporary approaches to teaching, it’s quite tricky to see a purpose for these new-fangled education ideas in an individualised performance + theory/musicianship exam kind of assessment context.
My current favourite new-fangled idea about teaching is this one called “the flipped classroom”. Basically the students learn the content part of the course using online resources – the teacher might have uploaded diagrams, videos, links, recordings, and the students can read, watch, explore and listen in their own time at their own pace via their own internet access at home. The classroom time is then freed up to do the things that students can’t do alone: from things like discussing ideas with their peers and reviewing each other’s performances through to creative experiences like improvising in a group or learning conducting skills through to massive projects like planning and producing a concert series.
This freed up classroom time also means that the role of the teacher changes: facilitating and mentoring rather than instructing and correcting. And this would impact on the amount of preparation time a high school music teacher would need for each class (to be explicit – this new model would require much more teacher preparation) as well as increased follow-up obligations.
But it would be so cool.
No more prac periods, where students are (effectively) abandoned by the teacher to do their own private practice. All class time would be spent working collaboratively, either in small groups (even pairs) or as a class. Students would have to talk to each other about their work every day. [This would be a revolution in many an Australian high school…]
This would only work if teachers and school administrators took a leap of faith and believed that better results (marks and rankings) would be achieved through this change in approach. And as most collaborative activities would not have a direct correlation to the activities that are assessed, it might be difficult for teachers and administrators to take that leap. [And that’s without the leap in hours invested being taken into account, for a sector of the teaching profession that is strained to breaking point already.]
But I’ve been feeling inspired today just imagining/fantasising about what might be….