Teaching, parents and common sense

This is nothing to do with strings or arranging!  I spent a day with my 9 year old son, Dom, yesterday, doing a bit of home educating, because there was no school on Monday (staff training) and he missed the last 3 days of last term, and because I wanted to.  I’d read Curriculum 21 on holiday (very accessible, even as a parent) and I’ve requested the Home-School-Relationships book from FutureLab, so I’m buzzing about the learning revolution that technology has ignited everywhere…..except in schools it seems.

We didn’t do anything extraordinary, no awesome creativity, just some music practice, a bit of music theory, some writing about the origins of snowboarding, some maths exercises (fractions), learned some French words and names of continents and countries.  Wherever possible, we found some fun, interactive exercises online.

Our day working together made me realise I have little idea of what my son is learning, day-to-day, at school.  We meet the teacher a couple of times a year for parents’ evening and each term we get a sheet outlining learning outcomes and topics.  He has some homework. We don’t elicit (or expect!) much daily information from Dom, though snippets do trickle out!  But I don’t know what specific things he is studying and what particular challenges the learning presents.

And that got me thinking how valuable it would be if the teacher tweeted or blogged about the daily topics for her learners, so that parents could support the learning beyond the classroom.  No specifics about individuals of course, just an overview of what’s hot in the classroom and what the children can do to follow on from their classroom activities.

Playing devil’s advocate, this would mean an additional responsibility for the teacher.  But frankly, in our connected, collaborative world, if something like this isn’t perceived as requisite then teacher education is failing our generation.

Reading Curriculum 21, I was both inspired and disillusioned.  If this new vision of how and what to learn to survive in this century is a manifesto for change, it would most likely take many years to reach my son’s schools, while teachers’ typical use of tech in teaching and learning is limited, so my own role in his education takes on even greater significance.  I feel he isn’t going to get these great opportunities (which will be the foundation of good citizenship and work-readiness), in school.

So it’s up to me and the more I see the value of tech in learning, the more critical I will become of a school system that doesn’t exploit it.

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2 responses to “Teaching, parents and common sense

  1. Pete:
    I am a music teacher to homeschooled students in the Atlanta Georgia metropolitan area. As a music teacher in the private sector (as in I don’t teach in public schools), I feel I have more freedom to take advantage of technology than many of my public teaching peers. And in that regard, let me tell you that your approach to the chords in the key lesson was superb! I have taught the chord relationships as three families of chords, with the head of each family being one of the Major chords. So 1,4, and 5 head up each family. In the 1 family there is 1,3 and 6
    the 4 family – 4 and 2
    and the 5 family, 5 and 7. The chords in each family can be used interchangeably with each other. The 1 and 4 family can go where they want, but the 5 family takes you home to 1. I have been happy with that explanation – until I saw your explanation of “home” “away” “neighbors” and “return”. I am a very visual learner – and your picture of how chords relate is a wonderful way to present this topic. I will be spending a good deal of time on your blog and with your videos. You are about to become a valued resource for me and my students. Thank you for what you are doing!
    regards,
    Paige Garwood

  2. Thanks Paige – I like your system for chord families. I’m not sure where I got that ‘home’ and ‘away’ concept from – one of my teachers I guess!

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