Tag Archives: teaching

Happy Non-Teacher’s Day

This year, I celebrate my identity as a non-teacher.

On the Wednesday of the last week of August, as schools around the island closed for half a day to celebrate and honour their teachers, I reflected on my identity of not being one.

I looked at instagram posts by ex-colleagues and friends, sharing their proud moments, their pile of letters and gifts from students, being award titles like “Most Caring” or “Most Inspiring”. I looked at them and I felt a little tug. I could have been one of them. I WAS one of them.

What was that tug? Jealousy? Nostalgia? The longing for something you think you might like but know that you would not want it so much once you have got your hands on it?

Maybe a mixture of all of the above.

As I contemplated my mixed feelings on a day I had always had mixed feelings about (because I was never fully secure in my identity as a teacher), I also contemplated on the person I am now.

I thought about the decision I made to leave a particular system, though I realise now that leaving the system does not necessarily mean leaving the identity completely. So many aspects of who I am now and what I do as a music therapist still manifest from the teacher in me, just in a different context and in a different industry, with different goals and intentions.

And as I told a comrade, “the institution we left has its own system of rewards to get us to do what they want. Because we have opted out of that system, it means that we may not get those rewards, but it also means we are spared from the confines of that system.”

And that is certainly something to celebrate. Because freedom to be who you are and to relate to your authentic personality in what you do is something priceless. Certainly not something you can measure in gifts and awards and letters, no matter how heartfelt and touching and affirming they are.

That said, I was very touched by the call from 2 ex-students. It’s always nice to be remembered.

So… on a day when I would have celebrated (or tried to celebrate) my identity as a teacher, I instead contemplated on who I am, who I want to be. And relished in the freedom of being able to do so.

#RealLessons

“Cher, why did you give me a B?!” The student spouted in a somewhat accusatory tone.

“R”, I started in my most patient tone, knowing he didn’t take well to confrontations and challenges. “I didn’t GIVE you that B. You GOT a B. It’s what you earned for yourself.” I ended with a tiny knowing smile at him, just to show that I wasn’t really chiding, but reminding him of the truth he already knows.

My statement seemed to surprise him a little – I could tell from his loss of words, which doesn’t happen very often. He then gave a slightly sheepish smile. I knew he had been aiming for an A, and it was understandable that the B had left him disappointed.

More than learning where he had lost valuable marks, I also hope he learnt the value of taking responsibility for his effort and actions, and the importance of accepting disappointment in life, without blaming them all on others or on external circumstances.

#reallessons

The “Someday” Trap

A conversation with a close friend recently got me thinking about the extents one would go for meaning.

There are people in this world who find meaning in making sacrifices for the greater good, staying on in environments they may find draining and tiring, just so they can feel the satisfaction of making a difference in an institution, with people they care about and work closely with.

There are also people in this world who cannot imagine being in their shoes, choosing instead to pursue meaning on their own terms, seeking to be separated from an environment they find stifling, regardless of the rewards the system and institution may grant to keep people inside.

As someone who (currently) belongs to the latter camp, I tried to understand why my friend from the former would want to make sacrifices like that. To delay her own aspirations so that she can make “lasting impacts” in her institution, so that she can leave a “legacy” in the programs she heads, so that she can pass her work on to a “successor”.

The conclusion I came to was that it is not for me to judge how different people form meaning out of different things and circumstances. Perhaps I am the self-centered one, the one unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the greater good, masking my selfishness under the guise of “seeking personal meaning”.

I just hope that we haven’t fallen into the “someday” trap, the mindset that “someday I’ll do what I want, once I have accomplished this, and that …”
I hope, for the sake of my friend, that these sacrifices for the “lasting impact”s and “legacy”s are truly meaningful and worth it.

The Fight Within

It was a physical fight – Boy1 was wielding the broom, Boy2 was furiously using his legs, kicking to defend himself and attack his attacker.

Their fight was stopped.

Mine began.

“Why are they behaving this way?”

“Don’t they know what’s right and wrong?”

“Why don’t they get it?”

“Have all we spoke about in class been for nothing?”

“Why am I so affected by this?”

“Why am I feeling emotional over this small matter?”

“There’s been worse things.”

“Your class isn’t the worst, please. There are other worse students out there.”

“Why doesn’t anyone understand that I’m trying to prevent them from becoming those worse students?”

“You need to be fierce with them.”

“This one already fierce leh.”

“You ok?”

“It’s ok.”

“It’s ok to feel emotion.”

“It’s ok to feel.”

“It’s ok to show emotion.”

“It’s ok.”

“You care too much.”

“Why do I care so much?”

“I don’t intend to stay on.”

“After this sem, 2 and a half years more.”

“I wish I had done something differently.”

“I’m sorry to call you about this.”

“You don’t have to be ashamed about feeling.”

“Appreciate your emotions.”

“They’re what make us human.”

“It’s ok to not be ok.”

Is it?

Article: The Role of Music in Adolescent Development

By: Miranda, D. (2013).

From: International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 18:1, 5-22.

 

This article is a literature review, which highlights how much of adolescent developmental psychology literature and research leaves out the role of music in an adolescent’s life. It concludes by stating that more research into the developmental role of music can present more insights into the psychological, social and cultural needs of the contemporary adolescent.

 

My reflection:

We know that most of the songs we seem close to our hearts are the songs we listen to from our teens to 20s. There is more research and literature about how music can help in reminiscing in elderly patients and clients, helping them make sense of the world around them in their aging years. “Use of familiar repertoire” is a staple music therapy intervention and technique in working with aged care. Most of these “familiar repertoire” are the songs that accompanied them through the tumultuous years of adolescence and young adulthood.

It would make sense, then, to study how the same songs which adolescents are identifying with as they are growing up, are being used (consciously or unconsciously)to help them cope in their psychological and emotional development. With more understanding in this area, teachers, developmental psychologists, counsellors, and therapists might then be able to better understand how to help adolescents cope with the struggles of growing up. These struggles could include: Peer pressure, identity searching and formation, emotional issues, mental health.

Example: I’ve noticed that having the same tastes in music is one of the first things which bond students together into long-lasting friendships. It could be the latest k-pop band, or just the single which became a hit 2 years ago. The moment 2 or more individuals find out they have the same tastes in music, a tentative friendship is formed, which could then be strengthened or dissolved depending on other factors. Music, then, could be used as a bonding agent within the class, especially to aid students who might not be as apt or skillful in social aspects.

During music lessons this week, I asked students what is their “current favorite song”, promising that I would try to incorporate those into our music lessons. My motive, apart from making the lessons relevant to them, is also to improve the social dynamics of the class. Through group musical activities, individuals who might have found it hard to adjust to the social environment would be given an alternative platform to engage with their classmates, and hopefully blend in better into the social fabric of the class. Being well-adjusted is one of the key factors which could prevent later problems from surfacing, such as bullying, truancy or loss of interest in academic studies.

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Am aiming to read and reflect on at least on music therapy article every week and see how I can apply / transfer the content into the music classroom.  Part of self-development and reflective practice, and to not lose touch with the therapeutic side of things!