The student body of academic institutions for higher learning is becoming more and more diverse in culture and social groups through the past generations (Koester & Lustig, 1991; Powell & Collier, 1990). Therefore, educators must bear in mind this diversity factor and modify teaching procedures accordingly. I am a Korean intending to effectively teach piano lessons to high school students. I should be able to help my students appreciate the piano, play the piano excellently and make them become highly literate in music.
In a paper presented at the Central States Communication Association Convention in Oklahoma City in 1994, Goulden suggests that the primary goal of academicians and educators in facing cultural diversity should be to “provide an opportunity for learning that is beneficial for students (1994 5). This primary goal is supported by more straightforward objectives. Goulden also states that the students must be prepared for life after graduation (1994 5).
Therefore, the end goal should be to help the students, however diverse their cultures are, to stand proud for his culture and for what he has learned. As a piano teacher, I think that aside from teaching my students to simply play the piano, I must also impart on them the value of cultural pride, as well as the importance of understanding people on other cultures that will also be part of their audience in playing the piano. Even as music is considered a universal language, it will help my students to play with passion to be able to transcend cultural differences.
It is my goal as a teacher to help them achieve that level of effectiveness. Of course, in effect, I intend to teach piano lessons to my students to help them achieve high literacy in music. Literacy is a much broader concept than most people think. While others believe that literacy is all about learning to read and write, other academicians believe that literacy means deep understanding of subject matters, such as music. To contrast, literacy is what broadens a person’s world, while illiteracy shrinks it down (Needlman, 2001).
I think a person’s imagination has a lot to do with literacy. For example, if my students could learn to read the notes and play the piano effectively, I will be happy as a teacher. However, if my students will play the piano and experiment with musical notes on their own, then, I will be happier; because it means that I am imparting high litereacy to my students. If my students can use their imagination and deepen their appreciation and interest in music, I will say they are highly literate in music.
As a piano teacher, I think I need to know more than just my students’ level of skills. For instance, I need to know more than just the notes that they can or cannot read, or the music pieces that they can or cannot play. To be able to reach their mind and help them become imaginative, productive and highly literate in music, I must be able to overcome any possible barrier in reaching their mind. I think my students must have fun while learning with me. Culture can be a barrier to literacy, if there is no connection between teachers and students.
For instance, some of my students might be intimidated by the fact that we Koreans, are highly interested in music, and it is an integral part of our lifestyle. I, as the teacher, should tell my students, that even if a certain culture appreciates music more than a certain other culture, it does not mean that the others cannot learn. In fact, on the contrary, we would be very happy to share our passion with the rest of the world. I think that as a teacher, I must understand my students, as well as their families and their communities so I can help them to reach a high level of literacy.
Through understanding, I can better relate to my students and establish a connection with them so they will feel that they are a part of me, and I am a part of them, and we must celebrate our cultural diversity because it is beautiful to see that we are different, and yet the same. We have different cultures, but we also have the same interest and the same goals. Between my students and me, our main similarities should be our interest in learning together, learning from each other, and learning about music.
For me to have a better understanding of the underlying effects of the increased cultural diversity of my students, I should look into the manners in which students from diverse social and cultural units experience music. I think I should educate myself and equip myself with knowledge about my students varied culture before I can become truly effective in reaching out to them, to make them excellent piano players. Culture is not a static phenomenon passed exactly as it is down from one generation to another; in fact, culture is a dynamic, flexible, breathing environment to which every person makes a contribution.
In this case, education, specifically music education must be about helping every student find his passion in music, and help him nourish that passion so he could be prepared to make his own contribution to his own culture (Shuler, 2001). If I could help a student with a culture different from mine develop a contribution to his own culture, then it will also be my achievement as a teacher. References Goulden, N. R. (1994). Curricular Changes, Communication Skills, and Cultural Diversity: The Next Generation, 5. Koester, J. , & Lustig, M. (1991).
Communication curricula in the Multicultural university. Communication Education, 40, 250-254. Needlman, R. (2001). What Is Literacy? Retrieved November 15, 2006 from http://www. drspock. com/article/0,1510,5133,00. html Powell, R. , & Collier, M. J. (1990). Public speaking instruction and cultural bias: The future of the basic course. American Behavioral Scientist, 34(2), 240-250. Shuler, S. C. (2001). Music and education in the twenty-first century: A retrospective, Arts Education Policy Review (Vol. 102, pp. 25): Heldref Publications.