Earlier this month I had the pleasure of conducting a presentation at the National School Boards Association conference in Chicago.
As all of us in the education community continue to define what students need to be successful, respectful citizens, I had the honor of working with representatives of school districts from across the country that were looking for solutions that would support and strengthen the work of the teachers in their districts. In the same way that we meet teachers regularly who are working to provide their students with the best education possible, I met school district members who see the need for their districts and schools to be more inclusive and create productive, global citizens.
On my way home I happened to be sitting next to a young woman who is in a graduate program for new teachers here in New York. We talked about preparing for an uncertain future as an educator, where you really don’t know who will be sitting in front of you on that fateful day in September when you have a group of young people eager to learn new things.
She told me of her experience of studying what might work in their academic classes and not knowing if any of it will help her when she’s working with students from backgrounds she may not be that familiar with. As a grad student in teaching music, she sees the conundrum of having an academic area that directly is impacted by religion over time until present day, and some of the limitations, both real and perceived, to addressing the impact religion has on the study of music.
And on a plane ride from Chicago to New York in April we talked about the December dilemma that music teachers around the country face: Christmas carols or secular music; gospel music; Chanukah songs; other traditions? Where is the line between increasing the knowledge of students around the legitimate intersections of religion and academic subject matter and the need for all students and their parents to be included?
By my estimate there are approximately 228 days until the school Winter Concert season begins. I think it’s important for us to start thinking about and working on these matters today.