Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Observation on Teaching and Remakes

Last weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Broadway entertainer Sutton Foster at the Kennedy Center. As did the other many people in the theater, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. She is a talented singer and entertainer. Perhaps what impressed me the most was her rendition of John Denver's Sunshine On My Shoulders. As a person with a music background, I have always been choosy about what label, what orchestra, what performers, what venue when it comes to music. However, my biggest hang up has been when people choose to remake a song. I believe that beating the original is very hard - the standard so to speak. Unless the artist really takes the song and makes it their own, without changing its original intent, a remake can be a disaster. So how does this apply to teaching? The standard. If we as educators, can take the standards and make them our own, without changing their purpose or intent, we won't lose the art of teaching. I hear people say that the standards have ruined teaching. I disagree. I feel that we lose creativity and the art of teaching when we focus purely on skill and drill. We all need to take a lesson from the arts - you can achieve a standard in multiple ways. You can do it by putting your own spin on it and making it your own. AND you can please your audience when you do it. Sutton Foster didn't sing the song like John Denver, but everyone knew exactly what the song was, got the same message, but was able to hear it from her perspective and interpretation. She made it her own with her own style. Creativity can't get lost in our society of accountability. Rather, it should be the glasses through which we see education. I know kids appreciate it too!