The contrast between the Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) and Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School shows that there are many different approaches to education. We are without a doubt in an era where technology is changing the way people collaborate, work, learn, and create. NBCS is highly innovative with their use of technology in the music classroom, effectively embracing the 21st century’s culture. Does this mean that it is better than Kamaroi Steiner? I cannot simply answer that question with a “yes” or “no”. In this blog post, I will delve into what I believe balances the polar opposites and how I will use the approaches in my own teaching.
The Kamaroi Steiner school holds back on the use of technology until later years as they try to develop skills first, which can then be applied to the modern practices of the era. One of my thoughts with this approach is that the world outside of the classroom for younger children is different. As a little aside, I have a soon-to-be 6-year-old sister who is growing up in this modern culture and I can see many differences in how we learnt. She makes use of voice searching, as her reading/writing ability is not capable of allowing her to search for all the information she is curious about. She also loves to learn using the Reading Eggs app in some of her free play time. This era is very stimulating for students as there is a plethora of media, and a barrage of screens everywhere. This was very different to the way things were many years ago (See YouTube video below for a simple comparison). This does not mean I am against the way Kamaroi Steiner approaches education, because I can see the benefit of their approach. Developing good skills, nurturing creativity and artistic ability before technology could have its benefits, although, I think they can also be developed alongside technology.
Technology in music is growing and is becoming increasingly more important to the musicians of today. While NBCS has access to so much technological resources for their music education, I don’t believe that it is all necessary. NBCS makes use of all their technology to effectively aid in the guided collaborative project based learning. Using technology in the collaboration process is something I believe in as it also occurs outside of the classroom. The skills developed through the collaboration with technology can be applied to many areas in music and in other disciplines such as design. In a school with much less than NBCS, collaborative projects can still easily be achieved. Simply using cloud services, school learning management systems and google documents can effectively enable collaboration. This is one way to balance the radical differences between the schools with differences in technology resources. There are also increasing amounts of software for music which can be implemented in the classroom, such as Apple’s GarageBand (represented in image blow) and even programs geared towards music education such as Auralia and Munition. Using music creation software can be relevant to many students, as it is part of today’s music culture. They hear all the music on the radio that has been produced in Digital Audio Workstations and it can spark their curiosity on how to create music like that. As part of my course, I have been exposed to the study by Ethan Hein who touched on this element of modern music education in his master’s thesis (Can be found on his website http://www.ethanhein.com/wp/).
In my own teaching, I will try to balance the educational approaches used in the two schools as I see benefits in both approaches. I will try to make use of technology and project-based learning to apply the music classroom to the 21st century, however, not all the time. Using technology at the right time is my concern, so I will still hold back at times and try to develop skills without the barrage of technology. I do not want to be completely reliant on technology in my music teaching, despite being somewhat of an avid technological user myself. It is also a matter of being realistic, as NBCS is extreme with their access to technology.