You are on page 1of 10






When looking back on our evolving world history paints us the picture of a social, cultural and political world much different from the one we live in today. While democracy may have been an understood concept, there was a demand for acceptance of a totalitarian society. Those in power had a say in all social and political endeavors and there was very little attention to the perspectives, values and needs of the everyday person. This same principle is very closely translated to that of our education systems. When comparing the education system of the past with the future we see a very top-down, hegemony-type learning approach. Teachers had a set curriculum they were to teach what the government mandated as necessary for students education. Students showed up to class and were merely filled with information. But the question is where did this leave room for experiencing? When acknowledging the past we may benefit from recalling on our ancient philosophers like Plato and Socrates who believed that acts of questioning, critical thought, problem solving and dialogue would fill the with world with more intellectually, creative beings. While it is obvious that positive efforts have been made to change our education systems, conflicts over teaching to be taught and teaching to experience still exist. This may be due to challenges put forth by National Standards. These said standards are guidelines that help the government assess the growth and development of students in all subjects. While teachers begin to tackle these standards they sometimes feel that expectations may be to challenging to meet given each new learner or situation. Therefore in any case there


is a lack of tangible, concrete, experiences where thorough skill building, and creative processes are emerging in a student-centered way.

Experiential Learning

An anecdote from John Dewey confirmed my understanding on the meaning of experiences. In Democracy and Education, John Dewey discusses the meaning of experiences and their effect on learning. He states: One shares in what another has thought and felt and in so far meagerly or amply has his own attitude modified. Nor is the one who communicates left unaffected. Try the experiment of communicating with fullness and accuracy, some experience to another, especially if it be somewhat complicated and you will find your own attitude toward your experiences changing the experience has to be formulated in order to be communicated It requires getting outside of it, seeing it as another would see it. (Dewey 1944, pp.5)

The concept Dewey presents can very well be integrated to that of everyday life but can also be effectively applied to Music Education. We often share personal experiences to help others feel more empowered, or reflect on past experiences good or bad to help another realize purpose in their current life. As teachers, it is important to first create an environment within our community that encourages our learners to embrace their own as well as their peers experiences. We do this in hopes that they will find education to be intrinsic. While the description of a teacher


may illustrate one who holds the information that is to be taught, the operative function is not to merely teach but rather to take the thoughts and experiences of the learner and encourage their process of learning. We want our students to understand the value, to make connections both inside and outside the classroom. In retrospect of my experience, I feel that this idea is the nucleus of all emerging ideas and possibilities for each individual. Although every learner is not the same, what I find the most significant is that the underlying purpose is to find the value in learning. As a pre-service teacher I believe that experiencing is learning. It is essential to understand ways in which we can provide our students with experiences that are meaningful and valuable. The National Arts Education Progress (NAEP) and the Three Artistic processes of 21st century skills are two very concrete frameworks, that encourage the use of standards in ways much more authentic and practical to both a teacher and their students learning experiences. In answering some of these major issues, a closer look at some of these two frameworks principles will hopefully lend some insight and encourage teachers to provide their students with the necessary learning experiences while effectively applying all of the standards.

Approaches for 21st century learners: Revolutionizing arts standards to provide experiential, life-long learning.


As we look at how our educational systems have been shaped over the last few decades we find almost a revolutionizing of approaches for learning specifically in the arts. Scholars, teachers, and advocates for learning the arts are very much aware of the connotations associated with learning that involves music and the arts. There are large populations that support the concepts, practices and values music and the arts instill in students. This same culture understands its abilities to shape an individuals life, make them culturally conscious of the world around them and expands their mind in a much more creative way. There is also a population who finds that music, the arts, theatre and dance, do not have the capacity to give knowledgeable and valuable learning experiences. While I understand these said counter arguments, I stand firmly in the belief that those who are experiencing and doing are learning. My advocacy supports the ideas that if standards are a main source of assessment, for individuals governing music programs, then teachers of music instruction should be able to choose their approaches that will satisfy skillful, knowledgeable and experiential learning. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a framework that was designed to inform teachers on what students should be able to know and do. The framework combined both goals of the arts education assessment with the National Standards. In discussing the role that music and the arts plays in our U.S. education system their visions states:

Through music, dance, theatre and visual arts students become part of the human heritage of creativity. Through the arts we touch transcends and go beyond the mundane and ideal. Participation itself expands the boundaries of


the arts, so that every personevery student who produces performs, or responds is adding to the body of artistic wealth. This is the power of the arts: a sense of contributing to an eternal conversation reaching backward and forward beyond time. (NAEP 2008 Arts Framework, 2008 p.3)

While this testament is affirming it is often that music educators feel theyve been short handed in time within a school year and often overloaded with district demands. So how do we solve this issue releasing the chains of expectation on instructors, so they are able to better organize their teaching approaches. The NAEP does a comprehensive breakdown of each of these art forms, which also coincides with the National Association for music Education. The Three artistic processes provides a powerful model for organizing standard-based music teaching and assessment as well as a vision of the musically educated student (Schuler, 2011 pp.9). These three artistic processes outline creating, performing and responding as the three larger central focusing ideas students should be able to learn, do both inside and outside of the classroom. Scott Schuler, president of MENC is confident in this approach because it is comprehensive, practical and authentic. (2011, pp. 9) Creating is the first step, which suggest students imagine and develop ideas through composing and writing music. Planning is the subcategory, which involves students experimenting, researching, and designing ways of presenting ideas through artistic materials. Evaluating and refining is the process where students apply the knowledge and skills to assess enhanced artwork (Schuler, 2011 pp.10). Of these aforementioned concepts, analyzing and interpreting are also important in


achieving these processes. When students analyze and interpret they are able to form opinions based on concrete information they have gathered. This learning experience might apply well to the artistic processes in a general music, or TV and film class. Imagine a lesson where students were asked to create their own film based on a historical event. Students who were more interested in computers might learn how to use garage band or other music making programs and score their film using various songs that they thought would engage their plot, or create entirely new music on their own. Collaboratively students could paint, draw out a plot board that outlined what their film were to look like. Those interested in theatre could be the writers and inform their fellow colleagues on ways to create a variation on the story being told. In reflection of this lesson students have outlined and experienced all three parts of the process. They have responded to music that is of their interest, they evaluate which components would best serve the projects tasks, students analyze all subparts of their film, they then collaboratively put their skills and strengths together. Each component becomes fulfilled when they create and upon creating, students then reflect and evaluate in order to have a product that is not only pride-worthy, but has purpose, intention and was thoughtfully planned. This would satisfy students abilities to collaborate, to create and imagine. They are given the opportunities to perform and are able to respond to their progress by peer and self-assessment. While outlined with the intent that music and art achievement will be fulfilled, these models can also be used to inform core and cross-curricular education. This artistic process has also been applied to developing what Scott Schuler calls 21st century skills where students are learning the necessary skills


needed to be successful in life and provides the competencies to achieve in a workforce. He promotes creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration as the four main concepts that adhere to both the National standards and to the artistic processes. In reflection of this process it is important to acknowledge that this contemporary approach has incredible amounts of room for growth. Teachers should encourage this process and the NAEP as ways of being able to access their students growth with a balance of skill and technique building while building on their creativity and engagement in music and art forms. As I approach some final conclusions on this subject I feel it is necessary to again reference the meaning of experiencing and specifically as it effects music. Lori Custodero believes: The meanings we make of music are constructed through music, as it functions in our daily liveswe also construct music meanings in music attending to images and interpretations of musical content as performers and audience members and with music, in creative interactions with musical materials and ideas (as sited in Abeles & Custodero, 2010, p.61) This concept very closely parallels Deweys idea that learning is being able to expand outside what you are and experiencing through others perspectives.

Conclusion I believe that among the many practices that come with successful teaching this approach is a concrete perspective educators can take in reshaping their curriculum. It gives teachers the ability to revolutionize their lessons and to create lessons that help students make true connections. As music educators we understand that music


has the ability to capture an individual and through acts of creativity, skill building, imagining, collaborating, communicating etc. completely change their perspectives. This is not limited to an awareness of music but provides learners with a discipline and appreciation for a myriad of other subjects and interests. Reflecting on this approach and past experiences, I envision a program of my own that encompasses using the 21st century skills and artistic processes. While this may not be the only approach, I am confident in this perspective because it would enable my teaching to become less teaching but more facilitating and experiencing with my students. As we move towards yet another century of evolving ideas and intelligences adapting to new perspectives will only benefit our practices. It is also within our intentions that when the time comes for our students to move on from us, they have gained the skills and capacity to learn, to motivate themselves as well as others and ultimately to exist in a world where their experiences are marked by their motivation to create them.



References Dewey, J. (1944). Democracy and education. New York: The First Free Press. Abeles, H. F., & Lori, C. A. (2010). Critical issues in music education: Contemporary theory and practice. New York, U.S.: Oxford University Press. The role of arts education. (2008). Retrieved from NAEP 2008 framework website: works/arts-framework08.pdf Schuler, S. C. (2011). Music education for life: The three artistic processes--Paths for lifelong 21st century skills through music. Music Educators Journal, 97(9), 913.