Friday, 18 January 2013

Two bits I did for The Source

The Source is a local free magazine. My friend Khudayja works as an associate editor there and she got me writing for it. I've done a number of pieces for them and realised recently that it was those pieces which made me feel like a writer when the work on Virus was stalled and I could convince myself that someone who'd only had one idea for a story really qualified. now that I've had a second and am working on it, I still feel that getting published in The Source counts for something and am writing for them. these are my latest two bits. I'm going to go back through the other articles I've written and put them up here. It's more to fill in space than anything, but this is supposed to be my writing, so I should have been putting them up from the beginning.
This is on the issue of single sex education.

As a father of a 12-year-old daughter and as a teacher, I have mixed feelings about single-sex education. Girls definitely do better under it in terms of their results. Boys tend to grab more teacher time, both because they grab it and because teachers give it to them – studies confirm that. Girls tend to be less inclined to contribute to lessons because of the harassment they can get from the boys. In the teenage years, classrooms can become the stages where boys act out to show how independent they are, so disrupting lessons. They can also be just another place where potential girlfriends are and, since some boys' idea of wooing is to make a nuisance of themselves, can lead to individual girls being disturbed.
However, that is the real world. So, creating an artificial space where girls might succeed in learning how to deal with fractions, but not the rest of the human race, might just move a problem to later in life. Girls become women who want to find jobs and most jobs mean interacting with men in the workplace. And, while most teenage girls find teenage boys to be immature, they can sometimes find that easier to deal with than the intensity of girls in groups. It also seems to be the case that girls who are continuously around boys are less interested in them. Since they aren't forbidden fruit, girls learn to be less fascinated. Well, I hope so, anyway. 

And this one on the importance of music education. Aki has studied piano since she was about five. It's a big part of her life now. Just hearing her play through her current pieces Habana and Toreador from Carmen, blows me away. Aki can work out songs she likes on both piano and flute. She played a Green Day number for her last performance (Boulevard of Broken Dreams). We pay for her to have lessons and we think it is worth it just to be able to have that contact with music. This is about some of the other things it can add. 

Music – an extra, or an essential?
Unless your child is going to become a concert musician, argue some, then music lessons are only for fun and can distract children from 'serious' studies. In the case of classes which require the children to be pulled out of another class for individual tuition, these people would argue, it can positively hurt their education by taking time away from the real work.  The argument might seem to make sense, but research disputes it.
Researchers in Hamilton, Ohio, USA, documented that students participating in a string pull out program scored higher on the reading, mathematics and citizenship portions of the Ohio Proficiency Test (OPT), than their non-music peers.
This study paired string and non-music students based on their verbal Cognitive Abilities Test (COGAT). Four groups of string students were released two times a week for instruction. Later, two of those four groups scored significantly higher on the reading and mathematics portion of the OPT than their non-music peers. Additionally, 68% of the string students scored at grade level or higher on all four sections of the test compared to 58% of the non-music students.
In high school, the results are also convincing. Every year juniors and seniors take the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) for college admissions . These scores reflect several years of education and are intended to judge a person's over-all education.
SAT scores of students who studied music surpassed students who had not. Data collected from students taking the SAT indicated that students taking music and arts averaged scores that were higher than non-music students by 60 points on the verbal section and 43 points on the math section.
 The effect is cumulative with SAT scores improving for every year a student studies music. Additionally, studies have found that musicians tend to have better verbal memory and a better ability with learning foreign languages.
Why this should be is not 100% clear. Partly, it seems to be with brain growth. The brains of kids who started music before the age of five show a thicker corpus colostrum – the link between the left and right sides of the brain. An argument is that certain neural pathways are strengthened by music study and that these pathways are shared with other skills.
Another argument is that music training helps develop habits which transfer to learning other skills. In the case of foreign languages it can be the training of the ear to hear notes that allows a child to better hear things such as accent. With maths it could just be the discipline that helps a child go back to a difficult bit and practise it again and again until they've got it. And for English, it can't hurt that a student is routinely practising memorising sequences of notes that we name by the letters of the alphabet.
Another argument is that student confidence is built up by the habit of success. Work on a piece of music and you demonstrate that you can master it. Someone who does this often can easily come to believe they can master anything if they work on it, an attitude that often proves itself true.
Equally, children who study music tend to have more friends and, perhaps, more to talk with them about. Band members are forced into developing social skills, discipline and the ability to co-operate which are hallmarks of successful modern workers. Music students are also used to meeting with adults one-to-one and communicating and building relations with them. Such children are less likely to feel shy of asking questions to their class teachers.

No comments:

Post a Comment