Response Essay – most of the second part

National Educator Workshop – Response Essay
Summer Session 2002 / July 8-12

A conversation with Catherine (colleague from my school who also participated in this workshop) after the first music workshop yielded these observations:

  • Everyone did something and was able to do something.
  • There was no “wrong” or “right” approach or answer.
  • Using our imagination it is possible to create something out of nothing, in this case just using our voices and bodies to make music.

Five days into the workshop I heard Tenesh (one of the group leaders) say that we are developing skills to focus, and that we try to go to the core of what the thing is all about. Being able to release our imaginations to focus in a multitude of ways and thereby get to the core of what we are learning…wow, very powerful ideas which this workshop modeled and helped me experience.

Eric Booth’s talk continued to model the ideas of the workshop and provided a more concrete framework for implementing those ideas. The brainstorming guide Entering the World of the Work of Art also provides a substantive model to use. And the two basic questions of the inquiry method: What’s going on? and Why do you say that? form the backbone of how to get started. Couple this with a work of art and you have a jumping off point. On the last day of the workshop I wrote the following notes in my journal. I don’t recall whose words they were but they sum up my feelings about this workshop experience, and the goal I have for my students (and myself):

There is excitement in experiencing something intrinsically. This experience makes you the expert; it empowers you and draws out your imagination. The result is self-confidence and a depth of knowledge.

It is more difficult to apply the concepts from this workshop to my work with faculty, not for lack of ideas or how to approach aesthetic education, but more because people tend to be protective of what they already do. Many faculty have invested time and energy in developing their curriculums, and those curriculums seem fine as they are. Tweaking those approaches ever so slightly to alter a lesson requires much conversation and modeling, and a willing audience/participant. But then again, that is the approach I have to take anyway when talking about technology!

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