Music has the power to change the world, something Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School music teacher Jonathan Grant firmly believes, so he asked his students to use music to benefit others.
As his students developed, produced, and performed an original benefit concert they learned about collaboration, learning ownership, and how to think big when helping others. This is their story.
Art is an intimately personal undertaking, but many believe its real purpose is to inspire and inflame feeling and opinion. The most potent forms of art have the potential to change situations and people in profound ways, and our history is the most significant source of this truth.
Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School music teacher Jonathan Grant believes this also. “Music has the power to change the world,” he states. “Art may be self-expression, yet the highest art can profoundly affect the world around us.”
After having been inspired by a visit to Lindisfarne from Wabisabi Learning president Lee Watanabe-Crockett, Jonathan decided to ignite the passion of creation in his students’ hearts and minds in a project that would also inspire them to serve others. He called it ‘Music Takes Action.’
Jonathan began by posing the question, “How can we use our collective skills to stage a benefit concert that will raise awareness for a worthy cause?” He tasked his students with exploring various causes and what they could engineer in terms of a musical concert to support them.
As a teacher, Jonathan was excited about the potential outcomes of using the Fluencies for such a tremendous student-centered project. However, he admits it was tough at first.
Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
“As a teacher, I had to step back and let them have the realization that the ball is in their court,” he recalls. “They are the authors of their learning experience, and once they realize this, their engagement levels are profoundly affected.”
Their benefit concert project would include collaborating with others who were able to offer their unique skills and insights and actively rehearsing, promoting, and finally performing their finished product. All of the Essential Fluencies would end up coming into play in some form or another.
Students began by discussing what issues were important to them and why. After that, their next task was to gain inspiration and motivation by observing other huge and successful concerts that were staged in the name of some worthy causes.
Once they had an idea in mind, they chose what songs they would be playing and arranged them accordingly. This stage also involved designing unique and eye-catching promotional materials to get others interested.
Letting students take the lead has shown that it is possible to learn when they are doing entirely different things.
“You will have to thoughtfully delegate tasks, playing to the strengths of the class and putting together groups that showcase your various talents,” Jonathan instructed.
When the time came to finally perform their concert songs after a diligent rehearsal period, the students wowed the crowd—not to mention Jonathan himself. “Students not only achieved the goals set out in the unit but also learned to collaborate, think big and take ownership of their own learning,” he says proudly.
The Fluencies are effective in that they place learning accountability directly into the learner's hands in a way that connects to what is relevant to them. From the beginning, students started taking responsibility for not only their learning but the learning of the wider school community.
- Students are thinking more for themselves and assuming responsibility.
- Lessons are engaging and related to real-life learning where they get to see the consequences of their actions.
- Students are developing a sense of ownership for learning.
- They are working on projects that solve challenging problems that are relevant to their interests.
According to Jonathan, the teachers involved in using the Fluencies in their instruction have been invigorated by the potential learning outcomes. There are connections being formed between methods that did not exist before.
- Letting students take the lead has shown that it is possible to learn when they are doing entirely different things.
- Teachers have assumed the roles of facilitators and “guides on the side” as students take the lead in learning.
- The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to their students’ interests and increase student engagement.
"There is a sense of possibility that has been nurtured through this process," Jonathan says. "I am eager to see these projects grow and coalesce into relevant initiatives that actually make a positive difference in the lives of students, and in the local and global communities."
- Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
- There is a more profound sense of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
- Integrity and curiosity are developing for everyone in unexpected ways.
- Educators are being inspired to both learn and instruct in many different ways to connect to learners.