Learned behaviours

Post forty-two in our (re)learning to teach music series. This is week nine of the collaborative blogging and we begin chapter seven. 

Vaughan Fleischfresser @VFleischfresser

If I try to recall my educational upbringing, specifically in relation to the learning behaviour environment, then my eyes are immediately drawn to the words on the outer edge of the diagram – family, school policy; school ethos; community; culture. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family, and part of Australia, that really valued music and music education. This, without doubt, played a positive role in helping me form the learning behaviours necessary to effectively learn music. My parents were incredibly supportive of The Arts, and music in particular, and continually did all they could to place me in as many different musical contexts as possible. While this certainly put me on the path to musical learning, it wasn’t until I was immersed in the community – or relationship with people – that I really started to form the behaviours required. As I grew up in a rural farming community, the community, school ethos, and school policy, were strongly linked, with music and sport being in the middle. There was a fascinating mix of focus and discipline, mixed with freedom and confidence. I know this mix sounds rather contrasting, however the levels and melding of all these qualities helped to facilitate an effective learning behaviour environment for music. Interestingly, from my perspective, I feel that as a result of all that I’ve discussed so far, my relationship with the curriculum was peripheral to all the other relationships discussed in the diagram. I don’t really recall what the music curriculum was made up of, nor what I learned, or really whether I succeeded or not. Yes, I have the final grade to shed light on this, however I feel the curriculum that was put in front of me was essentially immaterial due to the learning behaviours that had been instilled as a result of relationship with self and relationship with people. Interestingly, for the final two years of my education, I attended a co-educational independent boarding school specialising in music. Again, I have a limited recall of my relationship with curriculum, which I feel substantiates my belief that my learning behaviours were ultimately formed and guided by family, culture, community, and school ethos. I have no doubt that if I had grown up in communities and attended schools that were less valuing of The Arts, then this entire reflection would have been different. Environment, and the effect it has on us all, is something I find really fascinating.

David House @House_dg

I can appreciate and understand Powell and Tod’s model – linking, as it does, so many key areas: emotional, personal, social, cognitive, school policy, curriculum and so on. My musical development and learning at secondary school age was most certainly shaped by factors which chime with those in the model, both in school and outside with the very clear support of my family. There was direct and clear teaching, both in class and instrumentally, the school’s ethos to have a focus on and support for music, the inspiration afforded by teachers, an overall expectation that learning would take place, support of my family in making music lessons happen, the availability of a piano [later from our church the use of an organ to practice on], and most importantly so many chances to make music with others in a supportive and challenging environment. I strongly feel that the social aspect of music-making, in my case from varied sources such as piano duets, accompanying, choral singing, recorder consorts and marching band, was vital in my musical development. Musical learning behaviours still sit within the model for students that I teach, and this is important to remember in planning and presenting music in school.

Ewan McIntosh @ETMcINTOSH

I think that the external factors of community, family and culture where very important in my learned musical behaviours. If I hadn’t had family or friends parents to take me to rehearsals in the week/weekend or a family who exposed me to a musical culture from an early age through going to concerts and playing music in the house. Without these external factors, I doubt I would have developed the musicianship skills that I have gained.

The model provided by Powell and Ted, show that pupils relationship with the curriculum in the school is one of the key area. For me, enjoying the rather traditional school curriculum that was very white, dead, male Classical focus meant that I behaved and did very well at my all boys school. Others from different cultures and who weren’t that interested in Beethoven et al, didn’t behave as well as they had very little interest in the curriculum even though our music teacher was a good teacher who could control the class well with effective behaviour management. I think that having an engaging curriculum is half the battle in developing good musical learning behaviours. The other issue is due t the optional KS4 nature of the subject means that for some pupils as they will never be externally assessed in music, they see no value in learning about it. In our qualification driven society, lots of pupils have always asked me ‘what is the point of music, I’m never going to be a composer/singer etc.’ By planning an engaging curriculum that interests them and giving them opportunities for informal learning outside of the classroom, many pupils I have taught have learned good musical learning behaviours as they have built up a good relationship with me and the subject. It doesn’t always work but I find that tapping into their musical interests and being interested about what musical learning the do outside of the classroom can help to develop these behaviours.

Steven Berryman @steven_berryman

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