The City of Edinburgh Council has proposed a 75% cut to the budget which funds Edinburgh’s instrumental music tuition service and all of the Edinburgh Schools orchestras and ensembles.
If this budget cut is put in place, the hundreds of gifted young musicians, ranging from ages of 7 and 8, right up to 17 and 18 across Edinburgh who learn to play a variety of brass, percussion, woodwind and stringed instruments, and learn to sing through their schools could be forced to start paying for their weekly instrumental lessons.
This could result in many pupils being unable to continue their music tuition, as they simply cannot afford it. I come from a family of four children and three of us have been/are being taught by amazing instrumental teachers who are employed by the Edinburgh Council.
As teachers I think it is important that we see the importance of music on young people’s lives and stand up against higher authorities when they propose that it is not as important as other aspects of the curriculum. It is unfair that something as wonderful as the right to learn an instrument should be taken from those who can’t afford to do so.
This is something that is very close to my heart and I am not someone who often presses petitions on others but I feel that this is a really important issue that we can try and help to fight against. Please take a minute to sign the petition and stand up for music in Edinburgh schools.
As someone who is a regular Facebook user, I see a lot of weird and wonderful videos on my timeline on a daily basis but this one has to have been my favourite by far. This child is having a conversation with her mum after her parents have gone through a divorce and her depth of enlightenment and understanding of the world is quite incredible.
She talks about how she wants “everyone to be steady” and in line with her heart. This is a great example of how at this age children may not know words for what they are trying to describe, in this case compassion, but can more often than not explain what they mean much better than any adult could. She talks about how much better the world would be if everyone smiled and if everyone could be friends. This message is so heart felt and is so important to remember when we are currently seeing a lot of hatred and violence around the world.
My favourite line that the child keeps repeating is, “I’m not trying to be mean” because it shows that she understands that people can try and enforce their opinions on others in a mean way but she is trying to achieve the opposite.
She then goes on to talk about how “everyone’s heart is something” which shows that she has strong morals about equality and everyone being seen as unique and having something to offer in the world. There is a constant theme in her argument that if she can do something, like smile or be nice, then everyone can because we are all the same. Her idea that everyone in the world would be monsters if we weren’t friends is such a powerful statement.
Have adults forgotten the importance of smiling? Have we as a society forgotten how to be friends? Are there people who have turned into monsters? What would the world be like if everyone kept it “steady” and “in line with the heart”?.
The terrible news of the terrorist attack in Paris on Friday 13th November will not be new to many people. It is a story that has really struck a chord with me and makes me question; what kind of world are we living in? When innocent lives are being taken, and for what?
One of the biggest outcries on social media over the last couple of days has been the need to highlight more of these tragedies that different countries, around the world, are facing everyday. Just today there was another attack, this time in Kenya. (See article below)
How are we now meant to move on as a society? What can we do to make a difference? And, most importantly, how can we as teachers address such serious issues in the classroom? It can be difficult to know where to start and whether or not children are ready to hear about some of the horror stories we are subject to every single day.
I think it is really important that, from an early age, children understand that violence is not the answer to solving problems. It always amazes me that people think that the way to achieve peace is through war. If people had the ability to see past hatred and violence and focused on loving one another then the world would be a much safer and happier place. This is a message that is important to share with children as we want future generations to live in peace. Psychologist, Marshall Rosenberg, has a very interesting take on the topic of ‘Compassionate Communication’ which I encourage you to read:
Another issue that has been raised after the recent terrorist attacks is the increase in Islamicphobia. I find it absolutely ridiculous that people are blaming all Muslims for the actions of a minority group who practise the same religion. This is why it is vital to teach religious education in schools, to help children understand that there are always going to be stigmas attached to certain religions but that doesn’t make all those who practise that religion bad people.
One way of helping children to understand such big issues is through music. There are so many beautiful and meaningful songs that really get the simple message across that it is important to strive for peace. Some examples of simple songs that can be used in the primary school are in the links below.
Overall, I think it is important that we inform children of world issues when they are at a stage of development when they are not going to just feel scared about these stories but will actually be able to communicate how they feel about the issues. It is important that we don’t cause them to live in fear but encourage each individual to make a difference. Something as simple as a session on reflective writing, poetry or through song could be a really effective lesson to cover some of the harder topics that are important to address.
Last week we took part in a workshop as part of the 1CM1 module, looking at professional values. Our main focus was the GTC Scotland Standards Section 1 (found in the above link). We started in our ‘home groups’ and then after being given a number we moved into our ‘expert groups’ where we talked in more depth about one particular area, before reporting back to our home groups. This is a task that I will definitely use as a teacher for group work activities as it was a good way of breaking down a big topic but still being able to engage with the whole task.
The standards are split into five sections:
Trust and Respect
Although each section has a set criteria, we were encouraged to think about why these things are important and what they might look like in practice. As this is a key area which we will revisit throughout our time as student teachers, but also once we enter the teaching profession, I thought I would share the ideas that our home group had about each section.
It is important to ensure that pupils are aware of different regional and global lifestyles, cultures and traditions.
No child should feel singled out in the classroom.
Children should be made aware of the rights and responsibilities that they have as a child but also what these will look like when they are adults.
As a teacher it is important to look out for any issues that pupils may have and to ensure that these are treated sensitively.
Be aware that children come from different backgrounds and not everyone is at the same stage in their learning journey.
Make adaptable lesson plans so that they meet the needs of every child.
As a student teacher it is important to seek help if you encounter a problem.
It’s important to see every pupils’ question as a serious one- even if it seems silly. You should always try and answer in as open and honest a way as possible.
Use your own experiences as well as your knowledge of how to act in a professional manner to be a good example to the pupils.
Don’t enforce beliefs or opinions on your pupils but encourage open discussions, giving the children the chance to ask questions.
See the potential in every child. Just because they have areas of weakness doesn’t mean they will always be weak in those areas.
Talk about being respectful and how what you say can hurt others. (e.g. name calling or phrases like “that’s so gay!”)
Trust and Respect (my expert group’s focus)
Mutual trust between pupils and teachers is key.
If there is good communication between pupils and teachers then they will gain each other’s trust. Pupils like to feel as though they are being heard.
It is important to respect other members of staff and members of the community to set a good example for your pupils to follow.
Make sure you have a good balance between fun a discipline in the classroom to maintain the respect of your pupils.
Being clear about what is appropriate behaviour in and outside the classroom is important so that pupils respect the rules which are ultimately be there for safety purposes.
Teaching good manners as simple as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ shows pupils how to respect others.
Being open to questions about different cultures and religions is important so that pupils respect each other’s differences.
Being aware of physical boundaries and individual school policies and remembering to act professionally at all times is vital as a respectful role model.
Letting the pupils be part of their own learning by having a saying in what and how they want to learn can build a good, trusting teacher-pupil relationship.
Be enthusiastic and make learning fun for the pupils wherever possible.
Work co-operatively with members of staff and other wider bodies of the community.
Take criticism productively and learn from your mistakes.
Be prepared for lessons and every day life as a professional teacher.
Keep a professional relationship with pupils and their parents at all times.
Maintain high standards for yourself so that you are leading by example.
Welcome to your eportfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.
The eportfolio in the form of this WordPress blog allows you to pull in material from other digital sources:
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You can pull in a Soundcloud audio track:
You can pull in a Flickr page
You can just about pull in anything that you think will add substance and depth to your writing.