Now, I’m all about arts and promoting those, as I think kids work better when they have outlets for creativity. But what I found most interesting in the whole story was that there was NO mention of common core or new learning techniques. The Department of Education would have been devastated.
Just to get you up to speed…the gist of the program is that in the elementary years, students are being encouraged to learn the basics of the subject by chanting, singing, music and rhythm. Celebrity, Jason Mraz has adopted a school in California and shared some of his ‘jingles’ about helping verbs. The whole class had learned 8 helping verbs in one day as they memorized his jingle. The same was being done for pronouns and other parts of speech, mathematics and other subjects. Students were having fun learning, were seeing success and school attendance had greatly increased. Even Mraz commented that he had finally learned his helping verbs!
The interesting piece of this is not that the arts are helping kids learn, but that the ‘grammar’ of a subject should be chanted, sung, memorized. Hmmm….isn’t that what the ‘classical movers and shakers’ have been promoting for a number of years? In the classical tradition of learning, the first stage of learning (the grammar stage) promotes memorization of the basic facts or ‘grammar’ of the subject. Singing jingles, doing chants and adding rhythm makes anything much easier to learn and is nothing new to the classically educated. The student success in this model isn’t surprising. If a student clearly understands the grammar of a subject, then they are able to move on to the next stage, which is the dialectic or the ‘reasoning’ stage.
The problem with many of the ‘latest and greatest’ curriculum choices or education models is that we are not taking these stages of learning into account. In an effort to create shortcuts and to keep education on the ‘cutting edge,’ we have done a disservice to the way kids learn. Now, through this new ‘arts and education’ program, educators in California and other US cities have ‘discovered’ that kids learn better through memorizing, chanting jingles and song. Again, hmmm…those of us in the classical world have known this for a while, but it is nice to have a ‘nod of approval’ from those in public education.
So, if you are interested in having your children learn the way that generations have learned (remember, public education in this country is only about 75 years old!), consider the classical education model. You get the basics, through age appropriate stages, learned in a creative manner and practiced over and over! Come join us!
CHA Blog Contributor