Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Movement Matters

After many years of making music with children, Eve Kodiak, M.M., became interested in the brain/body processes that underlie the learning process. As an Educational Kinesiologist, she now works with people of all ages, using music and developmental movement to create positive change. Eve can be found in her office at The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, MA, or at home in New Hampshire, writing and recording. Her CD/book sets include Rappin' on the Reflexes and Feelin' Free, which combine developmental movements with songs, raps, and narrations with music. Eve also performs and records as an improvising classical pianist. More information and articles on music and developmental movement may be found at www.evekodiak.com.

 
 
 
 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

H.O.T. Ticket: Building the Brain for Higher Order Thinking

2 Comments

I’m getting ready to give a workshop at the H.O.T. (Higher Order Thinking) Schools Summer Institute in Connecticut (there’s probably still room to sign up, it’s a fantastic opportunity to play with other adults, hobnob with an impressive array of artists and educators, and learn a lot of practical stuff, too).

H.O.T. Schools are good news for the arts. Public schools in Connecticut can choose to become H.O.T. Schools – and once they do, the arts can’t be cut out of the curriculum. The website explains the H.O.T. mission is "to inspire life-long learning in, about and through the arts in a democratic community celebrating each child’s unique voice."

It elaborates:
Education reform and professional development design are based on three core components:

  1. Strong arts: arts as rigorous academic subjects worthy of sequential, comprehensive study, with educational outcomes all their own.
  2. Arts integration: reinforces learning in all disciplines and offers an arts rich learning environments in order to encourage students to make authentic connections across disciplines.
  3. Democratic practice:a school culture purposefully encouraging choice, participation, connection and contribution of each member of the school community.

The HOT Approach appears in a school’s commitment to hands-on, minds-on, child-centered arts integrated experiences. In an arts infused environment, HOT Schools finds the processes of creating performance and response leads to increased achievement, increased attendance by students, higher self-esteem, decreased discipline problems, greater parent participation and a growing sense of community. 

The roster of workshops for the week-long institute is dizzying. Various approaches to integrating the Common Core Curriculum into the arts. Democratic practice through theatre. Exploring the instruments of the gamelan, joining the Gallim dance company in their movement activities, writing Chinese poetry . . . the list is so rich! I despair that I will have to miss most of it because there are over a dozen choices of activity in any given time period. Spending one of my summer weeks at this event could definitely become a habit.

I got hired to give a session connecting up H.O.T. philosophy with the brain. This is what I said I was going to talk about: Our cognitive processes are initiated unconsciously. How can we use this "lower order" thinking to achieve our “higher order” thinking objectives?

So I have been cramming, because although I know a fair amount about the way our unconscious movements affect our learning, I don’t know very much about Higher Order Thinking– even though I took a two-day workshop on it in January. I can now recite all nine of Howard Gardners’ “multiple intelligences -” with body movements. I can step up Benjamin Bloom’s pyramid of “cognitive taxonomy.” And I understand John Dewey’s contention that the responsibility of democracy can only be taken on by a populace educated to value individual differences in a social context.  But I am still reading, attempting to put a theoretical context around my experience at the workshop in January.

All the reading has made me realize how hugely times have changed. The student body we are dealing with now is so different from the one John Dewey encountered in the early part of the 20th century, Benjamin Bloom encountered mid-century, and even the one Howard Gardner encountered in the eighties and nineties.

Paul Dennison, Brain Gym® founder, put it succinctly – “Thirty years ago, we were concerned about getting children to read. Now, we are concerned about getting them in the room.” In 1990, one child in 10,000 was said to have autism. Now, the statistic is one in 88.

And the spectrum is wide – from ADD on up. A large number of the kids I encounter these days, in my practice, in my demonstration teaching, and in my personal life, seem to have some kind of attentional issue. And I’ve heard the same thing from teachers in small town and big city schools, public and private schools. They say that things they could expect from their students thirty, twenty, even ten years ago, they can no longer expect.

There are lots of angles from which these issues need to be approached. There is the fundamental question about whether it is even appropriate to expect the educational system deal with medical problems. And why is there this huge increase in students with special needs? (a 78% increase in autism in the last six years, for example). And there is the overwhelming question of what will become of this generation of children as they grow into adulthood, in a society that is totally unprepared for the influx.

But I’m not going to talk about any of that. I’m going to go back to the brain, looking at the movement patterns that we can use to address some of these problems from a developmental angle. I can’t solve all the problems of society. But I can help teachers learn to observe their students’ movements with a developmentally educated eye. And I can give them strategies for moving those students through an integrative process that will make life easier, and learning deeper, for everyone.

I’m looking forward to this workshop, because, if my previous H.O.T. workshop experience is any measure, these people are used to pushing the envelope of expression and having fun. I’m planning an improvised group operetta depicting the parts of the triune brain. And I’ve been making some cool visuals. But who knows what will actually transpire?

I don’t have much to worry about. As John Dewey says, “Experience has shown that when children [and adults, too!] have a chance at physical activities which bring their natural impulses into play, going to school is a joy, management is less of a burden, and learning is easier.” (Democracy and Education, chapter 15). 

Comments

Amy Goldbas Jun 30, 2013

Fantastic article Eve! Only one thing inaccurate..it’s not that arts can’t be cut from the curriculum, it’s that when the are embedded In the school culture, with all stakeholders understanding their role and power in cultivating creative and critical thinking, they are less likely to be cut…when the expectation of the community is that teachers will teach in, about and through arts they are far less likely to be targeted in budget cuts.

Movement Matters Jul 01, 2013

Thanks for the clarification, Amy! Looking forward to many “aha’s” next week!
For those of you who would like to learn more - Amy is a key player in coordinating the H.O.T. Schools Summer Institute (see link above in the post). If you write for more information, she is the one who writes back!

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