Benjamin Zander: The Transformative Power of Classical Music

As someone who loves orchestras and playing music, albeit not super well, this is eye-opening, beautiful and moving. I don’t consider myself a huge classical music fan, which in some way demonstrates how powerful this is. Alongside the fact that it has completely changed the way I understand and view classical music, I love the passion behind this, and the belief that it can be for everyone.

Rethinking the G.P.A. and what it means to be successful

Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want.

Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions. The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring. People are happiest when motivated intrinsically, but the G.P.A. is the mother of all extrinsic motivations.

An article on the pitfalls of the G.P.A. system. Love that people are starting to rethink what being a “good” or “successful” student really means. I’ve seen so many kids that are “so smart” in a grades-focused academic setting graduate high school with no clue what they want to do next. Or, worse, those who graduate university, having completed the degree that their parents told them to do, and they are completely without passion or purpose for the rest of their lives.

This is how New York schools are trying to help students learn English

Among the most significant changes is that schools must now have an English language teacher — like the woman drawing pictures at P.S. 160 — in the classroom for part of each week if even one student is learning English. In the past, students could receive English language instruction outside of the classroom, while spending the rest of their time in a regular class trying to puzzle out the words on their own.

Another shift requires schools and districts to create programs in which classes are taught in two languages. These bilingual programs will now be offered to students who are new to the public system, as long as there are enough children in one place who speak the same tongue.

An interesting article about how public schools in New York are trying to cope with the high numbers of students who are new to English. At least they’re doing something about it instead of turning a blind eye and hoping that the problem will sort itself out. Is this something Australia might have to consider for some school districts one day?

What if students controlled their own learning?

Peter Hutton of Templestowe College in Melbourne talks about an educational model that allows students to individualise their education and share control in the running of the school.

I’m excited that people are talking about what does and doesn’t work in conventional schooling. We might be a long way from completely overhauling our approach and perceptions towards education, but at least the conversation has begun.

I’ve read comments about how this educational model might not work as well for unmotivated students who are still trying to figure out what they’re interested in, or who perhaps might need a little more structure and guidance.

I can see how that might be the case, but I also wonder if students might have a better idea of what they’re passionate about if they were given more flexibility to explore in primary school. How would it look to incorporate some of these principles in a primary school setting?

“If I should have a daughter…” by Sarah Kay

It was what she said about raising daughters that grabbed me at first. And then she started to talk about spoken word poetry, which up till I watched this video was new to me, and even as a writer who never attempted poetry (and has no desire to), I couldn’t help but think: this is so cool. And then, I wonder if we could teach this in schools?

Get ready for Generation Z

(While)

It’s also Generation Z, demarked by the end of the alphabet as we know it, that’s calling for the end of generational segmentation. It doesn’t ring true any more, Adora Svitak says: “It ignores a lot of the things that shape personalities and collective thinking.” It also ignores the fact characteristics are fluid throughout life. “Understanding shared Baby Boomer traits is easy because most of their lives has passed,” she says. “But anyone making generalizations about me will have to realize I will change many, many times.”

(But)

Research, though still in beta, points to the emergence of a stellar generation: educated, industrious, collaborative and eager to build a better planet—the very qualities exemplified by [Ann] Makosinski. In fact, in a manner typical of the need to neatly compartmentalize generations, Gen Z is already being branded as a welcome foil to the Millennials, born between 1980 and the mid- or late 1990s, who have been typecast as tolerant but also overconfident, narcissistic and entitled. Those characteristics weren’t an option for the first post-9/11 generation, one raised amid institutional and economic instability, informed by the looming shadow of depleting resources and global warming, and globally connected via social media.

And that gives me hope.

Read ‘Get Ready for Generation Z’.