Our education system is doing a great job of creating productive citizens who work hard, wait their turn, pay their bill’s on time, and are totally unwilling to risk making a mistake. We have got linear “1+1=2”, “Columbus discovered America” thinking down to a tee. We can memorize the bejeazus out of some facts and figures, and a university graduate can even manage their time well enough to be extremely productive under pressure… But. We’re walking out of school with the unacknowledged assumption that every question has one right answer, and that if you don’t have that answer you are wrong and will be docked marks.
I personally see it most in Music education, because that’s the field I work in. By the time most kids reach high school it’s a challenge just to get them to string a handful of chords together that they can call their own. A lot of kids will do anything not to have to be vulnerable and risk making a mistake… Even when there are no mistakes to be made! To a lot of kids, the idea that there is no right or wrong answer, that they’re allowed to trust their own sense of what sounds good, is totally foreign. And it’s not just kids either, there are a tonne of accomplished grown-up musicians who can’t play their instrument without a sheet of notation to look at… without getting permission from a piece of paper. Or worse, who are capable of playing the most difficult of pieces but don’t because they take no joy in it.
I believe that a new approach to Music education can help to address the widespread social imbalance that we’re seeing between so-called left brain, linear, logical thinking, and so-called right brain, creative, emotional, intuitive thinking. I believe that if we can teach kids from a young age to trust their own inner musicality, to make things up, to get messy, to dig in and make mistakes, that this will help them be more well rounded, happy, and effective people. How you do anything is how you do everything, and the confidence, body awareness, creativity, and emotional intelligence gained through learning Music in this way will resonate and take root in the kids’ character as a whole.
Listen to every graduation speech ever made and you’ll hear “Follow Your Dreams”, “Believe In Yourself”, “Be Exceptional”, etc. and in these times such messages are ever more important. We need people who are willing to do things differently if we’re going to solve the problems being faced by our species. So, rather than spending 16 years hammering kids into a mould, then telling them to go out and be different, I believe that bringing this kind of Music education to the world will help to create people who are actually capable of thinking outside the box and following their dreams.