I was truly inspired yesterday. Last night, I went to our school’s play “The Sound of Music”. My inspiration started with the curtains being drawn back displaying the perfected and detailed set created by Rick Knievel and students. The inspiration continued with the flawless sounds coming from the pit, conducted by Glen Traquair. Continuing to motivate me was the seamless direction from Jennifer Warder.
The highlight, however, were the faces of the students showing true satisfaction and fulfillment at the end of the play, while they were showered with applause. The students’ performance was outstanding and mind-blowing.
Why was this the highlight?
The students were not part of the play for a grade, nor did it help them to improve their performance for an exam. The set designers did not have to complete hours of redundant homework, but instead spent quality time completing one single project. The musicians in the pit, who could barely be seen from the audience, had zero extrinsic rewards, but instead the internal satisfaction of a marvelous job done. Finally, the actors and actresses understood the importance of each word in the play, and the reason behind the execution of each scene.
I ask one simple question, “Why does this only happen in fine art classes?”
Simply put, the students are part of the play because of true intrinsic motivation. Each student is allowed to work on the part of the play he/she chooses. This teaching practice should be demonstrated in all classes of school.
Some have called it a “Fed Ex day”, or an “Artlassian day”, and now I will call it a “Sound of music” day. I am making an oath to my students:
Before the semester ends, I will give them one “Sound of Music” day, where I will provide them with multiple resources so they can work on WHATEVER they deem necessary. There will be no limitations, no suggestions, no constraints, but one challenge: Learn something that you have always wanted to know!
Of course, there will be one requirement of this class; you must be ready to demonstrate the learning that has occurred. I will not test my students after this day, nor will I require more homework to be done. This day, will not improve their test scores, it will not improve their mark in my class, nor will it cover a mandated outcome. “Sound of Music” day will demonstrate what can be accomplished when you put the reins in the students’ hands, and say “Show me where you want to go!”