Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Above the standard - intrinsic motivation.

Currently in New Zealand the National Government is encouraging schools to run more like businesses. They have introduced standard tests and they rate schools according to 'best standard performance'. These standards supposedly hold schools and teachers accountable for the work they achieve. The National Stardard tests and ratings supposedly show families which schools are the best schools.

The push to conform to standards is a rising tide that is drowning teacher's passions and squashing student's intrinsic motivation. Learning to a formula and rewarded with 'carrots' and gold stars will only create robots.

I think the National Government and 'Big' Business has it wrong.

What if the current business model (in big business and now in schools) strips people of their intrinsic motivation, and productivity decreases to a standard level? Dan Pink's TED talk makes a case against the standard business model.

What if the model changed to something more in tune with people's intrinsic motivation and passions - because we can't go on doing the same standard things for 'carrots' and gold stars.

So what are your children learning in school?
Why are your children learning the things they are learn in school? Is it enough?
Who is their motivator?

What is motivating them to learn more and rise above the standard?


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Music composers

At Manaia Kindergarten we are updating our ipad and ipod touches with musical instrument apps. After listening to Kevin Honeycutt at the Teachers for Teachers workshop, the team as a whole was once again inspired to explore new ways of doing things.

We have contemplated installing complex music systems to go with our ipad and ipods. However, Kevin Honeycutt's use of a simple amplifier and splitters would do perfectly for what we are hoping to achieve at Manaia.

So a search for some worthwhile music apps has been undertaken.

Melody Bells and Piano have already been successful apps at Manaia. Piano has particularly supported children, not only to explore notes, but to follow simple instructions to create a musical piece. The smiles on faces has encouraged others.

But the ipad/ipod technology allows us to think outside the square. Although 'real' instruments are amazingly beautiful, there are apps that allow you to create music in a new, different and beautiful way.  One I explored today is Musical Squares. It's interface is simple and plain - but somehow mesmerizing.

Bloom is an artistic variation of Musical Squares. It creates a visualisation that is almost hypnotic. Apart from the difference in its interface from Musical Squares, Bloom allows the music to eventually fade, allowing new music to be added - and so the piece continues to be composed.

I look forward to using these apps in our final mat times of the day (as well as throughout the session). In our final mat time, we sit, read and share books with one another, whilst listening to relaxing music. Currently children are able to choose the quiet music. They have drawn their own pictures to match the songs they enjoy and loaded them onto the ipod  (this makes it easier for them to identify the different music). With Musical Squares and Bloom, children will be able to CREATE their own relaxing music. I look foward to exploring this with the children.