Kenley Kristofferson

Composer.

Tag: monday

Music Ed Monday – The Gift is Ours

Around this time of the year, teachers often get cards and letters and usually for thanks.  It’s a nice gesture and I always look forward to it.

That sounds a  bit pretentious, but given that the nature of our job is to help other human beings further themselves and figure out the world around them, the notion that some of them may be grateful isn’t a strange one.

What said students don’t often realize is that the gift goes both ways – in many cases, we are better because you are here.

In the event that a student is reading this, you may realize that we have made several demands on you over the course of your time with us.  A great many of the times, you’ve probably met us every step of the way.  Fewer of you will exceed our expectations and even fewer will fail to meet them.

In all cases, the teacher learns from the students’ behaviour.

Whenever you react to us or our expectations, it prompts a question.  It’s not the same question every time, but it might look something like this:

Meets expectations: They did what I wanted them to do (in order to facilitate growth), now what’s the next step?

Exceeds expectations: They surpassed what I expected them to do, what could I have done differently?

Fails to meet expectations: They didn’t do what I expected they could, what did I miss?

In all cases, your reaction facilitates our growth just like our expectations facilitate yours.

The gift of growth goes both ways.

But it’s not only that.  There are many students who work hard for us and give us their best every time.

There are many students who light up our room with smiles and a great attitude.

There are many students who are a great friend to others.

There are many students who make the best of their time here by taking part in school sports, events and activities.

There are many students who let us get to know them as people.

They aren’t all the same students, but the result is always the same:

Investment = Growth.

As teachers, your investment in this building is the best gift you give us because it enables us to forge relationships that encourage your positive growth as a human being.

For example, when you give everything you’ve got on an English paper, the feedback and assessment become relevant because they can improve your ability to communicate.  But, behind that, the topic of that paper is probably something that you’ve never thought about.  Maybe a human rights issue, Romeo’s inability to get (or keep) what he wants (which, in almost all cases, is love), or an introspective project about discovering who you are.

When you give everything you have to that human rights issue by doing your research, carving your commentary to be razor sharp, or exploring ideas that have previously scared you, you may begin to challenge who you really are and (maybe what you really the topic.  Or, you may even unravel things that issues that you didn’t know existed and become motivated to be a part of the solution.

Growth 🙂

If it’s Romeo’s inability to maintain a relationship, what’s getting in the way? Are you like that? Is there a cock-eyed arrogance that drives men/women away? Is your over-emotional state sabotaging your ability to date someone past three dates? Do you always take the most complicated solution, even when a mind-numbingly easy one is presented? You may learn something about yourself…

Growth 🙂

Do you have to do a multi-genre essay about various aspects of your personality? Have you ever looked that deeply into yourself before? Were you scared of what you might find? And what happened when you did find it? And then how did you reflect it best in your work? Is your fear of commitment best shown as a collage or a poem? Is your love of family an expository essay or stream of consciousness poem?

Growth 🙂

We get really invested when you invest in our work because every assignment we give you is designed to facilitate growth.  Again, that growth often comes with a mutual trust between the teacher and the student and can turn into a dialogue, which often becomes conversation, which often becomes a relationship that encourages your positive development as a human being.

If you are a student reading this and you have given a lot to the school, then thank you.  Thank you for investing in yourself and, consequently, investing in us teachers too.

If you are a student reading this and you aren’t really into school, consider giving it a second chance.  You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, right?

If you were once a student and reading this, you probably made a difference in someone’s life while you were at school and you might not even know it, so thanks for that 🙂

Music Ed Monday is taking a break for the summer, so we’ll see everyone in the fall!
(though, stay tuned for VGM Wednesday and various blogs about musical adventures!)
Kenley

Music Ed Mondays – Placing the Focus

While I had a whole other idea for a post this week, the “Gov. Rick Perry forgetting which three agencies he wants to scrap” has really been occupying my mind – but not for the forgetting; but rather, what it is that he wants to scrap:

Commerce, Education and, uh…

Wait a sec… EDUCATION?!

What does that say about the state of the social state of education in his mind? Keeping in mind, the keyword is social.  Is he viewing education as so unimportant and frivolous that he wants to axe the whole department?! Why are people focusing on the notion that he can’t remember when he publicly says that he wants to cut Public Education in its entirety? Breaks my heart…

Thankfully, it also breaks the heart of another prominent individual (and one of the people who I really look up to): Astronomer, Neil deGrasse Tyson:

“Odd that people focussed on Gov. Perry’s memory lapse and not that Education was a government agency that he wants cut because, that’s what America needs right now — less Education.”

– via Twitter

If that is the kind of “idealism” and “cost-saving” that governments are looking for, I think that there is an incredible cost to be paid for that – cost is the keyword there.  One former president of Harvard (though, I can’t for the life of me remember which one) once said…

“If you think the cost of education is high, try the cost of ignorance.”

… and that sentiment never, ever left me.  Education is not a cost; but rather, an investment and if you invest well, the returns are beautifully high for everyone involved.  Work ethic, patience, acceptance of others, literacy, critical thinking, leadership… these are not qualities that someone is born with, they are qualities that people are taught.  Education is not just about skills and concepts, it provides the framework to improve the moral and ethical fabric of society (through guidance by models who share the same philosophy, also known as “teachers”) while pushing students to self-awareness, rational thinking and emotional intelligence (while, at the same time, teaching skills and concepts to improve the lives of themselves and others).

But even beyond that, education is about being more than you are – it’s about bettering your life and your thinking.  If you live in a tough socio-economic climate, it’s the golden ticket out; if you’re plagued by demons and abuse in a downward spiral, it’s your silver bullet; if you’re someone who never knows when to quit and won’t stop until they can’t reach the top, it will keep raising the bar for you and pushing you farther than you ever thought possible.

Education is for everybody.  As a result of being for everyone, it isn’t the most efficient method of instruction all of the time – I’ll give you that.  However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here because it still works for the vast, VAST majority.

It’s like NASA – not the most efficient sometimes, but it’s so much more than just a program – it’s a dream.   It’s about going to places you never thought you could go, then exploring and walking around for a while.  It teaches us not to be okay with “just getting there,” it says, “okay, you’re there, now what? What’s next? How do you get further? And when you get further, what’s out there?”

NASA’s funding got hacked in October – big time.  It breaks my heart, because it’s not just the space program, it’s about the dream of going somewhere where generations of our ancestors never thought possible.  Let’s not do the same to Education.

Best,
Kenley