You never stop learning!
In my humble opinion, anyone who says they’ve stopped learning is a liar. About fifteen years ago, I was working in a school in Hackney (teaching music of course!!). The head teacher had recently returned from being a lecturer at teacher training college – returning to the classroom to put his money where his mouth was! On the notice board outside he called himself the “Head teacher-learner”. Lots of parents thought he was still training to be a head teacher of course – but what he meant was that he was still learning – every day he learnt something new about teaching, about children, about himself. He was right – he was still learning – we all are. On reflection, it wasn’t such a great thing to put on the notice board – but I completely understand where he was coming from.
Back to college….
This academic year, I’ve (foolishly or bravely) embarked on a Masters degree course in Early Childhood Music Education.
I’m at the Centre for Research In Early Childhood part of Birmingham City University. It’s a three year, part-time course and I highly recommend it!
The course is totally fascinating and very engaging – there is so much to learn. My first degree (in Music) was completed in 1992, my teacher training (in Secondary Music Education) was completed in 1997. It’s a long time since I’ve been in an academic environment, and there’s lots to remember and lots to catch up on. Education theory has moved on, the political landscape is very different and the world of very young children is unrecognisable in comparison to my own – and even my own (now teenaged) kid’s world.
This week I was at college for my last day of lectures for year 1. We were very lucky to have Dr Susan Young present a lecture to us – Musical Childhoods. Sue is a big name in early childhood music – she encourages us all to look beyond the structured “teaching” of music and see how children are experiencing music in all sorts of different ways – in their own singing of “known” songs as well as via all the digital technologies that are, quite literally, at their fingertips. And what about using music to communicate – that happens too. The world of a tiny child is hugely musical, and totally fascinating!
And there’s more – if you’re not interested in a whole three years, the word on the street is that a Certificate for Music Educators: Early Childhood is coming soon – from the same team as my Masters Degree. Get in quick – it will be popular! And if you just want to dip your toe in the water, how about attending the MERYC conference this June – I’ll be there to say hello!
And back to the real world…..
So I’ve come back from academia to the real world today – with a bump (my “to do” list is a long one – and it keeps growing) – but I’ve brought some more ideas back with me, and I continue to challenge myself to look beyond the songs, and to listen to the voices of my students. Running Musical Bumps classes isn’t a one-way process – nor is there a narrow path to stick to. Our classes are great – there’s no doubt about that 😉 – but that’s partly because our teachers (me included) don’t stick rigidly to a lesson plan or backing track that doesn’t change. We adapt to the children we work with, we respond to their contributions and we make every class as meaningful as we can for everyone. Real music, real education and (without this, it’s meaningless) real fun!