Over the years, school budgets have faced detrimental cuts that have forced schools to eliminate programs that are not necessary in meeting state curriculums. In many instances, one of the first programs removed from schools is music education. While music education is not a requirement in many state curriculums, researchers believe that educators may want to rethink this decision because of the many benefits that learning an instrument can have on the development of a child.
While learning how to play an instrument is a good hobby for children to take on, it can actually have many more positive benefits than simply being an activity. Dr. Nina Kraus, Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, explains that there is evidence that supports the belief that music education can help students become better learners in a number of tasks. Furthermore, Dr. Aniruddh Patel, Professor of Psychology at Tufts University, states that learning a musical instrument can enhance the brain’s ability to process the sounds of speech which can play a role in the development of reading abilities, hearing and noise, and memory and attention. This is caused by a biological effect that music can have on the nervous system, as well as the brain. In one study conducted by Dr. Kraus, it showed that trained musicians were better at interpreting emotional sounds which Dr. Kraus explains is due to aspects of music, such as pitch and timing, having a role in speech, too. Dr. Patel supports this evidence by stating that many people who have taken music education have a larger capacity with some verbal and linguistic tasks.
However, in order to cultivate these different developments, it is not enough to just hear music. Dr. Kraus explains that the biological changes found in studies are more prevalent in individuals who actively participated in playing and creating music. Even a minimal amount of music training has been shown to impact brain development. Dr. Kraus states that less than five years of music education still had an impact on many individuals. In order to obtain the most from music, an individual must embark on the task of learning an instrument instead of just listening to it.
Dr. Nina Kraus, Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University
Dr. Aniruddh Patel, Professor of Psychology at Tufts University
Due to federal law, all kids are guaranteed the right to an education. But, this education has proven to be limited for students with special needs, especially students with autism. With the increased number of autism diagnoses, it is becoming more important to provide these children with an education that will benefit their future.
With special education, not all students require the same curriculum. Mark Claypool, CEO of ChanceLight Behavioral Health and co-author of How Autism is Reshaping Special Education, explains that students with autism would benefit from much more intensive services that are often applied in behavioral therapy, as well as other services, like speech and language therapy. He further explains that studies show that if you begin working with an autistic child early in their life that it can help the child grow into an independent adult. However, the current structure of school days do not allow for these services to easily fit into a regular school day.
Yet, this should not hinder the education system from working to change their special needs programs. Claypool believes that pursuing a better system is a worthwhile endeavor because special needs education already benefits from teachers who truly want to be there and the inclusivity of these programs. In order to aid autistic children in reaching their full potential, it is important that they are given the opportunity to receive a beneficial education.
Mark Claypool, CEO of ChanceLight Behavioral Health and co-author of How Autism is Reshaping Special Education
The right to an education is guaranteed to all students by federal law. But experts and parents are now wondering if we’re doing enough to help students with autism reach their full potentials.
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In the last few years, many high school teachers have changed how they are teaching civics in their classrooms. Rather than straying away from political discussions, many are using innovations in teaching to make their classrooms a space for students to engage with each other while discussing these controversial topics. Diana E. Hess, Dean of the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of the book The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, and co-author Paula McAvoy, Program Director for the Centers for Ethics & Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied how classrooms engage in these activities. Their goal was to find out how to best facilitate these discussions and the positive benefits that they had on students.
During their research, Hess and McAvoy observed different ways to make class discussions conducive to learning. Hess explains that one way to ensure that students had a good experience was to inform the students beforehand of the topic, so they could do research and prepare. She also noticed that students had an understanding of how to engage in controversial discussions with each other, but still maintain relationships with each other after class. Hess states that it was also essential that teachers were capable of directing the conversations to ensure that all views were being expressed. Most importantly, instructors had to make sure that offensive statements were omitted. In order for political discussions to work properly in the classroom, both the teachers and the students had to understand how to interact with each other in a mature and educational manner.
So, what are the long-term effects that these discussions have on students? McAvoy explains that it encourages young people to get more involved with campaigns and take political action much earlier on in their lives. By encouraging students to think critically about controversial and political topics, teachers are able to foster development and excitement for political conversation in younger generations.
Diana E. Hess, Dean of the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education
Paula McAvoy, Program Director for the Centers for Ethics and Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-author of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education
When and how should parents sign up their children for schools? Dr. Suzanne Bouffard, author of The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children, says that the pre-kindergarten year sets the tone for the quality of schooling that student will experience for the rest of their lives.
Some studies show that pre-K programs do not help students, but Dr. Bouffard says these programs are not created equally, and parents must look carefully to distinguish a high-quality program that will help students with lifelong learning from the rest. Some things to look for are the relationship between students and teachers and the balance of time spent on academic subjects and time designated for play. The activities in the room should also be age-appropriate, and students should have plenty of activities to choose from.
Dr. Suzzanne Bouffard, author of The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children
College is thought of as a ticket to a better life. Non-traditional students- those who go to college later in life- can face an uphill battle in their fight to obtain that ticket. We talk to Mike Rose from UCLA about accommodating these students.
Mike Rose, faculty member at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and author of the book Back to School: Why everyone deserves a second chance at education.
When choosing which college to attend, we often consider things like the school’s graduation rate or how successful its graduates are at landing jobs. Georgetown University Professor Jacques Berlinerblau says it’s even more important to examine professors — what their roles are, how they interact with students, and the involvement in their curriculum.
Berlinerblau notes that professors can make or break a student’s college experience. Many professors do not give their undergraduate students enough attention. Berlinerblau describes this situation as a ‘nationwide crisis’ because he feels too many people spend too much money on uninterested professors. He believes that only 10-25% of professors truly value undergraduate teaching.
Berlinerblau suggests finding colleges with smaller class sizes. This allows for more student-professor interaction and can improve students’ grades tremendously. Additionally, he suggests browsing college websites for concrete evidence of professor-undergraduate pairing to make sure your incoming college student can receive proper attention for the next four years.
Jacques Berlinerblau, Georgetown University professor and author of Campus Confidential: How college works, or doesn’t, for professors, parents, and students