Music Saves Education

The glue that binds an educational community

Child Driven Learning

on September 6, 2014

Moving past the phase of getting students “culturally adjusted” to the classroom, I’m  now focused on how we learn in the classroom.  I’ve become increasingly aware of (and acutely frightened of) the idea of becoming a talking head teacher.    I LOVE to talk in front of people, often to a fault.  This comes from spending much of my time when I’m not with children teaching adults and performing.   In my experience, adult learners want to spend at least as much time chatting about music as playing it.  Quite the opposite from the young ones.  My 4th graders don’t want to hear me talk about why the treatment of slaves and development of the blues in the Delta made for a far more sad sound than the Carolina Piedmont Blues…..(maybe you do if you’re reading this)  but kids want to jump, sing, write, and be entertained by the blues or WHATEVER.  They don’t necessarily care where music came from (at least not yet), but if it’s fun to listen to it, someday perhaps they will pursue that deeper understanding.  That’s why I sing the “modern” blues song by Bob Reid and Phil Hoose, “I Know Math”.  OK,  form aside, it’s not really a blues song but it’s got the feel and kids love to sing it.  If nothing else it’s wildly cross curricular and sneaks in the idea of the blues:

I Know Math 

From We Are The Children
Phil Hoose ©Precious Pie Music

Now I went to buy a toy it cost three fifteen
I gave her three and a quarter, (If you know what I mean)
She gave me one nickle back I said,”I’ll tell you one time”
“I know math and you owe me a dime!”

I Know Math Ooo I Know Math Yes I do!
Stronger than Karate – Tougher than Kung Fu
I Know Math

Now the teacher asked the class what is eight pus eight
She didn’t think we knew she heard us hesitate
Then the whole class yelled in voice clear and lean
“Eight plus eight is SIXTEEN!)

I Know Math Ooo I Know Math Yes I do!
Stronger than Karate – Tougher than Kung Fu
I Know Math

Now we were behind the score was seven to four but when our turn came we scored five runs more
The other team yelled at least we’re sttil beatin’ you
I said, “Don’t make me laugh cause we’re ahead by two!”

I Know Math Ooo I Know Math Yes I do!
Stronger than Karate – Tougher than Kung Fu
I Know Math

Now the Tooth Fairy knows I get a fifty cent rate
So when I lost two teeth I thought, ‘Hey this is great!”
She left me quarters til she heard me holler
“Get back in this room gal, you owe me a whole dollar!”

I Know Math Ooo I Know Math Yes I do!
Stronger than Karate – Tougher than Kung Fu
I Know Math

So Hey Cashier! Don’t you act so strange!
We can figure taxes and we make change
We know the minutes and we know the hour
and that adds up to a lot of KID POWER!
We Know Math Ooo We Know Math Yes we do!
Stronger than Karate – Tougher than Kung Fu
We Know Math

So now kids had fun singing “the blues” and I can go on and refer to this in the future in another context.

I have quite a bit more to say (and will in future postings) on learning in MY music room but in the meantime I want to share a TED talk on Child Driven Learning. This talk by Talk by Sugata Mitra  really touched on something I’ve been thinking about for a while; the fact that so much of my time in the classroom is spent teaching kids to be good listeners TO ME.  My lifelong goal in the music classroom is to foster a learning environment in which I don’t say a word but kids learn on their own– self driven.  I know it sounds like an odd pipe dream but Sugata Mitra’s experiment exemplifies this idea.
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In short, he placed computers in the walls of buildings (child height) in small villages in India where children had no access to technology or education and suggested that kids teach themselves how to use them without even knowing the English language that the machines were programmed in.   Please watch and feel free to comment.  I’m very interested in others’ thoughts on this.  BY THE WAY, if you would like to hear the tunes to the lyrics I publish, let me know.  I’m game.
– ’till the next post


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