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IT'S NOT A TRUMPET

THE BRASS BAND BLOG

Big Kids, Little Kids, Forget the Cardboard Box!


If I had a pound for every time I’ve ever heard the phrases ‘Everybody is different’ or ‘The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same’, I’d probably never have to work again and I could trade my Suzuki in for a Ferrari. Currently, the education system is doing quite a bit to promote diversity and equality, through teaching children to accept each other’s differences, to ensure they feel accepted and to avoid bullying and discrimination issues- which is brilliant! (always start your argument with the positives…)

 

The modern day school system, in some ways, does go beyond teaching children academic skills. . Through their normal curriculum lessons, children can be educated on a range of things that make us all different. In R.E and Geography they are taught about different religions, traditions and customs that other children grow up with around the world. They may have language lessons where they learn the basics that could spur a career breaking down language barriers. They may even learn sign language that could break down a language barrier within the classroom! They’re taught to identify the feelings of others through identifying how they themselves feel in a particular situation. Now, talks on sexuality and gender diversity are beginning to be promoted to young people. Overall, we’re attempting to teach children that these differences, whether physical, personal or cultural, deserve to not only be accepted, but celebrated and we should accept everyone for who they are rather than isolate or categorise people depending on our perception of their differences.

 

Why am I talking about this? Well, I’d just like to know why an education system that encourages lessons and programmes that celebrate ‘everyone being different’ doesn’t actually utilise this ethos in the actual creation of the curriculum?! The current education system is becoming to look more and more like a business or factory, with teachers having to meet ridiculous progress targets, as if the children they teach are a hoard of little, carbon-copy, robots who are all expected to achieve the same progress regardless of their actual strengths, interests or preferred learning method. I will always be in admiration of teachers because they are constantly under pressure from this close-minded and in my opinion rather primitive outlook on education and I have seen teachers who have constantly tried to battle against this unimaginative system in order to fuel the progress of their pupils (as if teaching wasn’t hard enough as it is!).

Whether it’s at primary or secondary level learning, if children do not fit into the English, Science or Maths box, they are somehow lesser than those who do. Running out of time during the week to fit in maths revision or spelling and grammar tasks? It won’t be sport that’s capped to make time (this is important for the children’s health after all) it will be music or an arts subject that will get cut as it’s not regarded as important and it certainly won’t help meet those targets! There’s not a music SATs exam any way so it’s fine. Except, it’s not fine to the child who only feels confident or heaven forbid actually enjoys their time in class when they’re doing a non-academic subject. But what’s enjoyment compared with an outstanding SATs score anyway?

 

Being different is good? Not if you find art, music and drama easier or more rewarding than working out Pythagoras or decoding a Steinbeck novel. In my experience a child who says they want to be a doctor or an engineer is met with a praising, encouraging response. Whereas a child who says they want to be a rock star or an actor is not met with the same sincere enthusiasm. It’s an idea they’ll grow out of. A child wanting to be an astronaut would probably be met with more praise because, hey it involves science!

You want science?! Actual scientists have PROVEN that music education enhances the learning in other subjects. Yep that’s right! You want more children to understand trigonometry? Give them a piano. Need higher grades in an English class? Pass them a bassoon. Struggling with Quantum Physics (who doesn’t?) Here, have a glockenspiel.*

*Please note, instruments listed are not necessarily linked to success in the relative subject listed above. Well actually, maybe the bassoon can make Shakespeare a little easier to understand, who knows? Give it a bash next time you read through Romeo and Juliet.

 

The point I’m trying to make is that art subjects are unique in that they teach you so many things a textbook or exam paper simply can’t. Guess what? My revision technique was based on how I broke down and learnt a test piece or solo. I got full marks in my speaking and listening presentation because I was that used to performing I had the confidence to speak to a class of 30 people about why I hated Katie Price (yep that was a real subject I chose to speak on). Furthermore, like I’ve said in previous posts, being an ‘art kid’ has brought me discipline, social skills, imagination and CONFIDENCE, which in my opinion are just as important as academic skills.

 

Up until the age of nine I was a painfully shy child. I hated school services and nativities so much I made my mum sit somewhere where I couldn’t see her because I didn’t like the thought of people looking at me, especially people I knew. For those who know me now, this might come as a surprise because now I would say I’m a reasonably confident, assertive person. Getting involved in performing in drama productions or concerts gave me this confidence I didn’t learn in the classroom. For some children this confidence does come from an academic subject or sports, which is fantastic and I’m not saying music should take priority over everything else. I do understand that there are people that feel the same way about the arts as I do about football (absolute rubbish). All I’m asking is for art subjects to be taken just as seriously, because for some people this is a very serious career choice and if they’ve got the ambition and drive to do it, shouldn’t this be encouraged? You’d encourage a child to fulfil their dream of being a doctor, why not a musician?

 

If you’re one of those people who think ‘art kids’ are lesser or these subjects are worth less than academics (Theresa May, I’m looking at you), then please do me a favour. Get rid of your radio. Unsubscribe from any music streaming service. Trash your telly. Don’t bother going to an art gallery, cinema or the theatre, because without the ‘art kids’ all these things our society celebrates will die out if you don’t support art education.

I think Mrs May is more likely to support farmers more than musicians anyway considering her obsession with wheat.

 

All children are and always will be DIFFERENT, so why can’t we DIVERSIFY the curriculum and give all children a more EQUAL chance. Teach a book through performing a play. As you would fund a sports facility to come in and do a tennis or football session, why not put a little bit of money into funding a drama troupe to do a workshop (by the way, serious respect to the teachers out there that find the time to run extra-curricular art/drama/music clubs). I’m not looking at teachers to change this, you do more than expected of you anyway, it’s the ‘educational powers that be’ who need to take a good long look at what kind of education they’re promoting.

 

A child’s progress is not relative to how many points they can score on a spelling test, it’s how much that child takes away at the end of the day. By not caging them in a box, you may be teaching a child that could go on to be a music therapist working with children with special educational needs, a music teacher who changes the lives of other children, an award-winning actor, maybe even a politician that has a shred of imagination and creativity- now wouldn’t that be an interesting idea!

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