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Hendrix and da Vinci

October 9, 2018

Personalized learning

During my recent conversations with educators it is clear that schools and classrooms continue to be in a variety of places on the topic of meeting the needs of students. Some are struggling with how to move forward while others have a plan in place and are willing to make every attempt to continue the momentum. Some are collaborating within schools/districts/regions and others are struggling alone. One thing is clear, progress is being made in the educational environments where visual and performing arts teachers have ‘a place at the table’. These teachers are confident and in many areas leading, their voice is being heard. No one has all the answers but questions are raised, conversations are ongoing and students are engaged and at the center of their learning.

In an Education Week article from October 3, educator Mary M. McConnaha shares her experience teaching in a middle school where the teaching and learning environment focuses on the needs of the each student. I hope that after reading the opening of the article below that you will take the time to read the entire article What Jimi Hendrix and Leonardo da Vinci Can Teach Us About Personalized LearningThe work of education can be messy but we owe it to EVERY student to approach it with a growth mindset so we can provide a learning environment where all learners, not only survive, but thrive.

American rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix performs at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California. —Bruce Fleming/AP

In Mary’s words: The 6th graders I taught during my first student-teaching assignment got me hooked on the musical “Hamilton.” The hit Broadway show, if you somehow haven’t heard, uses rap, hip hop, jazz, and show tunes to tell the story of how the American Founding Father’s life shaped the course of our nation—but it also teaches a lesson about education.

As a young man in the Caribbean struggling to make ends meet, Hamilton taught himself fiscal policy, history, political theory, art, and culture. Not only did he read voraciously, he also put his reading into practice, counseling ship captains on trading and moving cargo, according to the biography by Ron Chernow on which the musical is based. His early learning provided the foundation for his many achievements, including creating the first national bank of the United States.

The list of self-taught experts goes far beyond the Founding Fathers. Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Frida Kahlo, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington were all at least partially self-taught in their areas of mastery.

 

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