Thursday, January 28, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
November 2, 2009
I get choked up watching children's school choirs sing, or as Dicko put it on Australian Idol, I have a quiet "blub". Trouble is, I don't really know why. Why do my eyes fill with tears and why does my throat constrict as the kids do their musical thing?
So universal is the emotional kick of primary school choirs that I think they have helped remove one of the more promising finalists from the latest Australian Idol competition.
Toby Moulton, a 30-year-old primary school teacher from Adelaide, saved one of his fellow contestants from departure on Sunday night by announcing his withdrawal from the competition. He claimed he'd rather be a teacher than a pop star. "I now know who I am,'' he said. "I am a teacher."
There has been much agonising about teacher training and recruitment. In the "blame the teacher" mentality that seems to rule in the big end of town, the growing inequality of our education system has been partly blamed on the low quality of teachers. Much has been made of their relatively low entry marks for university and the low numbers of men who go into the profession.
Solutions that have been suggested include performance pay, special deals for male applicants, and the recruitment of high-performing graduates from other disciplines to spend two years teaching before they leave for fame and fortune elsewhere. None of our business or government hard-heads, however, expected that the recruiter of their dreams could turn out to be a pleasant-voiced, clean-cut man from South Australia.
It seems those who bemoan the quality of teachers have forgotten how you attract anyone to any profession.
The rules are simple:
1. Treat teachers with respect and listen to their perspective.
2. Make sure that there is a clear career path available to teachers as they grow and learn on the job.
3. Give teachers opportunities to increase their skills and continuously gain access to formal professional development.
4. As teachers gain mastery in their practice, give them more autonomy over how they will operate in their classroom - make them accountable but not micro-managed.
5. Protect them from abuse and bullying - from staff, line management, senior management, politicians, media, students or parents.
6. Pay teachers appropriately.
Toby Moulton's decision will have done a great deal to raise the morale of a profession badly in need of it. It will remind teachers that what they do is a vocation and vitally important. But Moulton may have done teachers a disservice as well. Teaching is a female dominated profession that is about nurturing and caring for the young. We often exploit the people who go into such vocations precisely because they love what they do and use that as an excuse not to reward them appropriately.
The appalling way we pay teachers, the often crumbling conditions they work in, especially in public schools, the lack of resources and support we provide, are the main reason few men enter the profession. In Moulton's home state of South Australia, there are only 152 men currently enrolled in teacher training courses.
In previous episodes of Idol, audiences have been treated to Moulton returning home. We watched the school choir sing their hearts out in welcome - hence Dicko's "blub", and we watched a deeply moved Moulton struggle with his own feelings. Though Moulton is not the choirmaster, perhaps he - and the rest of us - got choked up hearing the choir sing because we finally understood how much time, effort, skill and, yes, love had gone into getting those kids to sing so beautifully.
It is a tribute to Moulton - and teaching in general - that he would rather teach young people to find their voices than seek fame and fortune with his own, but we shouldn't use that as an excuse to pay or support teachers poorly.
Jane Caro is co-author of The Stupid Country: How Australia Is Dismantling Public Education.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Monday, January 18, 2010
Help Us To Recover From Our New Year's Break!
Well 2010 has started with a bang, a crash and we’re all feeling a little bit shattered – and no, we didn’t overdo it on the holidays. On New Year's Day, our Underwood store was broken into and several items were stolen.
We’re appealing to all our friends to pass this message on to fellow musicians and Facebook followers in the hope of recovering the stolen equipment. We’ve lost several prestige Ibanez guitars (normally everyone wants to get their hands on these, but usually by fair means), a Yamaha Pacifica, a Fender 60w bass amp and a small amount of peace of mind.
All the instruments have their serial numbers recorded and are therefore traceable, so if they are resold or hocked, it could lead to trouble for the purchaser. We’ve uploaded photos and serial numbers onto Facebook to help you to identify them visually. You can see them here http://bit.ly/8752kU
If you hear of, or see anyone selling, hocking or boasting about a bunch of Ibanez guitars, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07 3359 8266. If you want to be anonymous, you can even post us a message here http://www.ellaways.com.au/locations.php?loc=contact
Monday, January 11, 2010
click here to download and read more.
Start the year off right. Read of this very eye opening article. Will put things in perspective for you. "Message to Start the Year"
There are many ways to use these lovely giraffe pictures. Each one is (happily!) doing a common household chore.
You will find some teaching ideas in the document as well.
Not a member? They are also available for purchase in our Resource Shop - Classroom Resources.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Here is just a part of it:
The more thoughtful and specific your feedback to your child's practice, the better they will respond. Take time to listen carefully and find things that you can make positive (but honest) comments on, even if other aspects of the playing were weak. If you are part of a Suzuki program and practice daily with your child, consider this YOUR practice time to master the art of positive reinforcement.
Read the rest of this great article at Music Doodle Blog.
Maybe the days of tears and tantrums over musical instrument practice could soon be over soon. That would be nice.