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View Diary: Music Teacher Fired Because Of ELA/Math Test Scores (132 comments)

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  •  "just fine"? Really? (1+ / 0-)
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    Catte Nappe

    You looked at that list of cross-currlcular concepts and said:

    Nothing really about music in there, is there.
    That left me absolutely slack-jawed. That statement alone suggests that we do not hold the same definition of "just fine."

    I've raised four kids who are going through (or have gone through) truly cross-curricular music education/performance at elementary, middle school, high school and university levels. Speaking as a musician, I don't hesitate to say that those efforts--which involved (gasp) writing the occasional essay or (clutch pearls) historical analysis--undoubtedly bolstered both their musicianship AND their writing/analytical skills. By the same token, listening to Pete Seeger's music deepened their understanding of the 60's protests and civil rights movement then under discussion in their history classes. (Sometimes that's all it takes - a bit of coordination among lesson plans...)

    My kids didn't take art classes in high school, but I walked past the high school's art room a few weeks ago; the teacher had displayed various propaganda posters from the WWII and Cold War eras, and was apparently discussing the political and psychological effects of various techniques.  Not a bad idea in my book...

    You aren't likely to convince me that these are bad things, or that this is a poor approach to arts education. Your comments all seem to boil down to "I think that what I do is sufficient, I definitely don't want to do anything more, and I don't want to be evaluated by any else's standard." That isn't exactly the most convincing of arguments. Merely playing Chester isn't enough; musicians should understand the history of the piece, as well its impact and significance.

    As far as your performance evaluations are concerned, the core mission of the public schools is not arts education; they're going to have to do something to put you on the same evaluation scale as your colleagues in other subject areas; arts education simply won't survive as an island. I don't see a modest connection back to core content as a significant imposition or injustice.

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Tue May 06, 2014 at 03:10:29 PM PDT

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    •  This is where the debate on this should be (1+ / 0-)
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      wesmorgan1
      As far as your performance evaluations are concerned, the core mission of the public schools is not arts education; they're going to have to do something to put you on the same evaluation scale as your colleagues in other subject areas;
      It certainly doesn't seem fair to evaluate a music teacher based on how well kids are doing in their English and math classes. That should rest with the English and math teachers. But there should be some way of evaluating the music teacher on how he is integrating material into his classes that supports those subjects; as well as other performance measures that reflect on the effectiveness of teaching music.  So IMHO the arguments should be over how teachers are evaluated in all subjects, not just those two.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Tue May 06, 2014 at 03:30:57 PM PDT

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      •  Oh, absolutely! (1+ / 0-)
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        Catte Nappe

        I would absolutely expect teachers in core subjects to be evaluated on how well they used their opportunities to reinforce subjects other than their own.

        They ALL tie together.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Tue May 06, 2014 at 05:30:34 PM PDT

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        •  At the cost of their OWN subject? (0+ / 0-)

          "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

          by zenbassoon on Tue May 06, 2014 at 05:35:00 PM PDT

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          •  Geez, they aren't mutually exclusive! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe

            You seem to view your subject as your turf, upon which no others may tread and from which you shall not depart. You may have primary responsibility for one piece of turf, but everyone's pieces of turf are part of the same field!.

            The arts are intertwined with every aspect of our culture, past and present. You've been given example after example of this, and you've apparently chosen to dismiss them out of hand.

            The incremental cost of cross-curricular work is ridiculously low; I know this because I've discussed the question with numerous teachers at the elementary, middle school and high school levels as my kids have progressed through our local schools, and with teachers in my family as well.  It can be as simple as coordinating lesson plans (History: American Revolution - Music: Chester, Yankee Doodle - Literature: Common Sense - Art: Political cartoons/handbills, use of caricature), and implementation can be as easy as a 5-minute discussion to connect the dots before diving into "your turf."  You mentioned that you teach instrumental students to play Chester; well, take 5 minutes to show them the lyrics and discuss the song's impact and popularity in its day, and you've nailed a cross-curricular point. (Yeah, those students will need to know about Howe, Cornwallis, and Burgoyne over in History class...) That's all it takes...and the history teacher reinforces you by discussing the importance of protest music (Chester was second only to Yankee Doodle among the general public) in their classroom.

            Can every topic in arts education be cross-curricular? No.

            Can we do a great deal of cross-curricular work in arts education? Absolutely.

            Should we do as much cross-curricular work as possible? I believe so - in all directions.

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Wed May 07, 2014 at 09:02:18 AM PDT

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            •  But if the evaluation becomes about how well (0+ / 0-)

              cross-curricular material is used, then THAT becomes the focus of the lesson, rather than the subject itself. You're teaching more about the history and meaning of Chester, rather than the difficult technical 16th note passages in the bridge and how best to practice them and what the interpretation should be.

              "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

              by zenbassoon on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:11:55 PM PDT

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              •  Wow, now you can't spare 5 minutes? (0+ / 0-)
                You're teaching more about the history and meaning of Chester, rather than the difficult technical 16th note passages in the bridge and how best to practice them and what the interpretation should be.
                How many hours do you spend preparing a single piece?

                If you had but one hour's rehearsal to prepare the piece, you might have a point - but you're really going to suggest that

                5 minutes to show them the lyrics and discuss the song's impact and popularity in its day
                is a make-or-break, one-or-the-other, no-way-to-do-both situation for the typical music educator, who has weeks of rehearsal in which to prepare for performance?

                Wow.

                The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                by wesmorgan1 on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:07:19 PM PDT

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                •  If you're being evaluated on how well the (0+ / 0-)

                  cross-curricular material is integrated into your classroom, the pressure will be to emphasize the cross-curricular rather than the subject itself.

                  It's why schools are dropping music in favor of test prep. It's what Success Academies in New York does. Nothing but Teach To The Test.

                  They said it wouldn't happen with ELA and Math, and yet we have cheating scandals, eraser parties, whole elements of curriculum and whole subjects dropped in favor of test prep so the kids get the highest scores so the money keeps coming and the school doesn't get shut down.

                  If you want to tie music teachers to a test, tie them to a music test with musical elements--like note reading, musicianship, aural skills, singing, playing, and what not. And yes, you can even use music history for a writing portion. But keep it solely with music.

                  Cross-curricular instruction has its place, but it shouldn't be the basis for a test to evaluate teachers.

                  "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

                  by zenbassoon on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:22:54 PM PDT

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