Sunday, September 7, 2008

Music soothes the savage beast

Our school has no music programme. Many of our teachers attempt to use music in their learning areas to fill the gap. In English it might be examining lyrics, in IT examining how digital delivery is changing an industry, in media how music can emphasize and focus delivery of a message.

In my mathematics classes at the end of term I tend to bring in my guitar. Sometimes there's a bit of singing, other times it's placing a guitar in the hands of a student for the first time, sometimes it's a bit of strumming whilst they are doing their work and a bit of banter about 'more modern music' please. Last class I was told it was soothing and they did a fair bit of work. All in all it's simple classroom building.

A strategy I have seen in another school is using music to keep class noise low. The music is turned to just an audible level.. as long as the music can be heard it is left on. Other times, MP3's are allowed as long as students are working with reasonable efficiency.

I have also used music once or twice in statistics, where we examine radio station choice, genre's and the like.

One point that I should make is that I cannot stand the ghetto subculture. Would-be rappers beat boxing and talking about their 'hoes' make me want to fume. Girls that 'booty shake' and behave as property get a stern talking to. I would much rather pop, 'happy house' and dance music was the genre of choice and women viewed the 'empowered' nature of such video clips being object of desire and love rather than being objects of ownership found in rap culture. I inform the young ladies that they should be playing with dolls and doing schoolwork rather than thinking about boys. Once pointed out, the concept has a tendency to stick and find a home in their minds.

It must be a generational thing.

At home, these students work with constant noise/music in the background. In some ways I understand that they wish for similar circumstances in the classroom. There is some kernel of logic in allowing them to listen to music whilst working as known music probably blocks background talking out and allows the student to focus on the task at hand - conversely up-to-date music may be distracting as they will actively listen to the music (and want to discuss it) rather than actively doing work. I believe though that in many cases silent work still has it's place.

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