During Lockdown, I realised how many, like me were stranded in various parts of the world, unable to move around, engage directly with each other, or have living, tactile time with young children and babies. I realised then, just how important freedom of movement was, how critically important expressive behaviours to early social development was and how perceived outcomes (of online teaching) could only be based on assumption. My most vivid memories were...
I was determined to continue providing a school for children with profound disabilities with weekly lessons. With terrible internet at home, I pre-recorded 12 lessons each for nursery and primary ages, then drove to my nearest technology shop, sat outside and uploaded every lesson in the car. I had no idea whether they were watched, the responses of our pupils, or if the parents participated. I imagined they were helpful, a distraction
or provided some support in continued learning.
My second memory of online lessons was teaching in a room with boxes and instruments squished on a tiny screen with THAT same internet. Very quickly attendance dropped away. When I asked my colleague what was going on she said "You keep freezing mid song and your instruments sound stretched and weird". Despite these hitches, the schools and families I worked with were grateful. The loss of social experiences during this time caused major impact on confidence and language. At least we provided some respite and continuity.
12 hour Musical Marathon
Perhaps at least, my third memory was the most impactful to families around the world; I did a 12 hour music and movement marathon to help raise funds to keep my school, Music House For Children going. This included interviewing a collective of skilled colleagues from around the world who discussed the importance of music to support learning, communication, attachment and life skills in general.
Fortunately, I was able to use a studio, masses of resources, and the brilliant support of my brother-in-law who filmed everything. Together we spoke of the importance of music to connect us all, to support social development, and provided resources for families to enjoy at home. The gratitude I have for my esteem colleagues remain today - from Israel, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Malaysia, Germany, Greece, Canada, Australia, UK, Spain, Italy, and more.
What did I learn from this? That education cannot be taken for granted. When the chips are down it is we educators who need to think outside of the box and find a way to not just reach our children but to connect through shared musical skills whilst recognising developmental processes, combined with a passion for communicating and learning together - joyfully.
Around the world, our collective voices rang with vibrant energy that only music can achieve. To all those aspiring educators out there, on International Education Day I would say this; absorb all the training you can get, but then, follow an independent path to teaching, through your personal motivation and curiosity to share your chosen topic. No institution, nursery, school or statutory body should be allowed to ever restrict or dictate the continued creative make-up that is YOU. It is from you, that your children will fly.
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