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So maybe the question to consider is not what, but rather who brought people to Millennium park on that Sunday? Some- thing in Verdi’s overture first caught my ear and my heart in 1970 thanks to a music educator conducting a summer camp band. My introduction to Franz Liszt was sparked by watching serial episodes of Flash Gordon on WGN Sunday morning television. When I naively asked my high school band di- rector if we could play the theme music from Flash Gordon, he pointed me to a recording of Les Preludes. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy swept over me while trying to perform the crash cym- bal part with a community orchestra; a group my high school music teacher encouraged me to join. As much as the sword fight is fun to play, it was and still is the pathos of the coda that captures something deep in my soul on every beat. I cannot remember the first time I heard Pines of Rome, but thanks to an ensemble of music educators I have had the opportunity to perform it and experience countless times.


In my case, a team of K-12 music teachers and a community of adults that “regarded music as a profoundly important dimension of their identify, to be protected and treasured, as among their greatest achievements,” (Reimer: “Why Do Humans Value Music?”) guided me to Millennium Park. Music teachers developed the skills and cul- tivated the desire that I possess as an adult, and apparently share with many others, to experience and re-experience the magnificence of music for no other reason, benefit, or value than the personal enrichment and enjoyment of the musical experience itself. Music educators developed my ability to listen for detail and distinguish subtlety, to remember, compare and contrast simple and complex statements, to organize and translate intangible ideas into meaning- ful thoughts and humanizing emotions, to imagine color and shape in sound, to simultaneously listen and think in verti- cal and horizontal dimensions through a constantly changing environment, and to sense movement through time. It was


Winter 2010 | www.ilmea.org


through those centuries–old skills that I was able to feel the anguish of lost love, ponder the possibilities of fate, and celebrate the triumph of an ancient civilization all from my lawn chair. I was in the park simply to listen. Tousands of people were in the park to listen; to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful melodic and harmonic combi- nations of sounds that humankind has ever envisioned and been able to com- municate to others. How many music educators “brought” people to the park just to actively listen to great music?


So how does “Festa Muti” relate to the latest bandwagon to roll through the education community: 21st


Century


Skills? Does either topic have anything to do with your next classroom lesson, rehearsal, observation or parent confer- ence? Te answer is an emphatic YES, and music educators need to be on top of this bandwagon leading the parade.


In an article titled “21st Century Skills:


Education’s New Cliché” Professor Mike Rose of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies writes:


In all of the current talk about school reform, there is one phrase that you will hear in every proposal, whether it comes from the President or the local school board. Tat phrase is 21st


Provide students with 21st skills for a 21st


century economy.


Te ability to think critically and creatively and evaluate the products of one’s thinking. Te ability to com- municate effectively and collaborate with others, particularly in diverse and multicultural settings. Te range of skills is admirable, as is the inten- tion that they apply to all students. But what’s new about them? Tey sound like skills one would have gotten from a good 20th


century education


or from a lot further back than that. Te exception would be the emphasis on electronic media, but even here the underlying competencies–evaluating sources, synthesizing information–are good old fashioned ones.


Business interests and economic well- being have been part of public education in the United States probably since its inception. Since the passage of NCLB in 2002 the influence on and investment in education by the business commu- nity, for good or bad, has dramatically increased. Trough the frequent use of language such as “learning for a living” and “learning for work,” it is clear that the 21st


century skills curriculum agenda


is economically-based with the primary goal being the creation of an efficient and effective work force.


2002 also saw the formation of the Partnership for 21st


Century Skills (P21)


Te founding members include AOL Time Warner, Apple Corporation, Cable in the Classroom, Cisco Systems, Dell Computer Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, the U.S. Department of Education and the NEA. Membership in the Partnership Scholastic Council has expanded to include representa- tives from Hewlitt Packard, Adobe, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill, Verizon, Disney, and many others. P21 describes itself as “a national orga- nization that advocates for 21st


century


readiness for every student.” Te business “platform” on public education is stated on the home page of the P21 website:


Century skills. century


As the U.S. continues to compete in a global economy that demands innova- tion, P21 and its members provide tools and resources to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the three Rs and the four Cs. P21 advocates for local, state and federal policies that support this approach in every school.


For years some leaders in education reform and futuristic thinking such as Charles Fowler, Alfie Kohn, Diane Ravitch, Ken Robinson, and Daniel Pink have raised questions as to what it means to be educated and what do we hope for when we send children to school?


What are the goals of education in a democracy and how will current pro- posals advance those goals? Instead we get the standard default justification for


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