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Reading Highlights 8

Reading Highlights - Teacher and MusicianIn this eighth music education reading roundup, there’s a sense of the pressures of our time. Two articles this week look at the pressure that educational reform has placed on individual music teachers, one looks at the need to show cross-curricular links and another looks at the value we place on assistive technology for music. If there’s a theme across these posts, then it’s the need for music teachers to constantly adapt to external pressures.

David Ashworth: ‘Good enough’ technology – don’t knock it

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David’s call for wider acceptance of adaptive/assistive technology to help SEND pupils make music is one that should really be taken up across the music education sector. We happily adapt our existing instruments and resources to better support pupils’ learning (taking off xylophone keys, writing letter names on keys, etc) but does this lead to less appreciation of the musicality shown in the performance? Should enabling access be seen as devaluing outcome? There’s certainly quite a bit of thinking and discussion needed around this point.

John Finney: Year 8 blues song tribute

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This post from John Finney looks at a blues project that has ticked a few of the cross curricular and ‘real world outcome’ boxes. The project that John describes has integrated music, oracy and history in order to deliver a podcast included as part of the school’s “exhibition of beautiful work”. There’s been a definite musical outcome from this project and it would appear that each of the three curriculum areas have been well served. I would, however, be very interested to see what each head of department thinks. When I was involved in an ‘integrated curriculum’, many teachers felt that the ‘product outcomes’ were strong but the ‘learning outcomes’ were problematic, so I’m interested to know if this has been the case here.

John Atkinson: Music teacher <<online>>

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The first sentence of John’s post raises a common issue for music teachers and one that is, thanks to budget cuts, surely becoming even more prevalent – the isolation of being the sole music teacher in a school.  John highlights the value he has received from Facebook groups, blogs and YouTube for personalised CPD. As more and more schools bring CPD ‘in-house’, it’s less and less likely to be relevant to music teachers. I’ve written before about online support networks for music teachers and it would appear that teachers like John find this outlet increasingly valuable.

Martin Fautley: In which I reflect on dentistry and assessment

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Martin certainly wins the prize for the best title in this week’s Reading Roundup! He should also win the prize for the most unforgiving attack on the ‘flightpath’ approach to assessment that is becoming a more regular feature in our schools. I’m particularly pleased to see Martin highlight the bizarre approach to assessment that limits a child’s achievement based on length-of-time-at-school. Why should an incredibly able pupil in Year 7, who is outperforming pupils in Year 9, not be able to achieve the same level as those older pupils? The only sensible answer is because it makes it difficult for the teacher to demonstrate ‘expected progress’. Have we really allowed ourselves to be complicit in a lie about progress in order to make our lives easier?