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.

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I'm back from the Higher Order Thinking Summer Institute. It is always interesting to jump into a different fishbowl. I spent a week in July at Wesleyan University, swimming with teachers, principals, teaching artists, and consultants who are negotiating the rapidly changing currents of public education policy.

We used to be cushioned in Early Childhood Education – our kids didn’t used to be tested, or expected to meet academic standards until at least the second grade. But as one frustrated O.T. recently reported to me, the word from her principal had just come down: “Kindergarten is the new first grade!”

For any of us developmentally sensitive educators, that kind of attitude is reason for despair. But I found reason for hope at the H.O.T. Schools seminar.

First of all, No Child Left Behind is an outgoing policy. That telephone book of laws that was dropped on the head of public education. As arts education consultant Deborah Brzoska put it in her workshop, Arts Integration and the Common Core, “I had no idea how difficult it was going to be.” Suddenly, teachers were not able to create their own curricula and test their students according to it. They were being legally held to cover certain material in certain ways and their schools’ funding – and their own jobs – were tied to their students’ performance on standardized tests that they had no power to create or change.

One of the most damaging aspects of No Child Left Behind, in terms of arts integration, was that teachers were mandated to be “experts” in their field. Could you put on a musical if you didn’t have a degree in musical theatre? Could you collect fossils if you didn’t have a science degree? Exploring and learning about a topic together with the students suddenly became dicey – you might be getting outside your professional zone, and that wasn’t necessarily a safe thing to do.

No Child Left Behind, according to Brzoska, is sanction-driven, not program-driven. Teachers and administrators were told where they and their students needed to be, academically and administratively, and what would happen to them if they didn’t succeed. But there wasn’t even the most rudimentary map of how to get from A to Z.

But now . . . Ding, dong, the witch is dead! No Child Left Behind is being replaced by The Common Core Standards!

The Common Core is not exactly the Emerald City. But what I learned at the H.O.T. Summer Institute is that it provides hope for those of us who value creativity, individuality, and the arts in education.

For example, in a different workshop (Arts Integration: A Cure for the Common Core) with writer/professors Louise Pascale and Lisa Donovan, I learned that the term “text” in Common Core parlance is not limited to the written word! It can be a song, a photograph, a film, a piece of visual art, a dance. This is already amazing – in this one word, “text,” the arts pour in. The potential for arts integration is not only there, it is welcomed.

We can be part of the dialogue! In a document ponderously titled The Arts and the Common Core: A Review of  Connections between the Common Core State Standards and the National Core Arts Standards Conceptual Framework , we learn that “The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards is currently spearheading the revision of the national standards for arts education for the first time since 1994, and this presents a significant opportunity to highlight the overlap between the Common Core’s objectives and the practices of arts based learning.”

So let’s read this document - find places where arts education can be shoehorned in - and advocate for the arts in our schools! Parents are at least as important as teachers in this effort. Let show our schools the ways arts integration is not only allowed – but encouraged – by these new Common Core objectives.

It is important to get ourselves out of the fight, flight, freeze response of the last dozen or so years. After years of operating in survival mode, it can be difficult to realize that we are coming out of the woods. But now that there is a place for arts integration in educational policy, we can activate our creative problem solving capacities and advocate!

But time is of the essence. The policies are being formed now.

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ECMMA is grateful for the ongoing sponsorship of our Supporting Businesses and Organizations. Please be sure to thank them for their efforts in supporting Early Childhood Music and Movement. Learn more about ECMMA Supporting Businesses.