Author: Jeremy Lewis
Head of School at ACS Egham
With pens hardly dry from writing exam papers, or from marking them, we turn to look at what has been gained from all this revision and exam work.
A new research report confirms what so many teachers fear, or feel, that there is far too much focus on subject knowledge and not enough focus on, well, ‘learning’ at secondary school level.
Many of you reading this will have done A levels and will be past masters at cramming facts. But how many of us were specifically taught at school how to learn for ourselves, how to apply information intelligently, perhaps to draw information or ideas from other people, and apply them to successfully solving a problem?
These are traditionally skills learned at university or in the workplace, but surely we should be asking why our education system has such a narrow focus, and why, by the time a 17 or 18 year old completes their mandatory education, they are not equipped with the right set of skills to help them thrive at university or in work?
Over the last few academic years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of music exam entries at ACS Egham, from 12 in 2010 -2011 to 54 this year across a wide variety of exam boards including Trinity, The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and London College of Music. I wondered what had caused the jump and what benefits our students found by taking exams?
Students are often able to develop core music skills through especially crafted music board curriculums; making sure students develop a proficiency playing pieces, learning scales, sight-reading and answering aural questions.
As students develop their general musicianship, there too, is a direct correlation with increased enjoyment of playing as they tackle more complex and interesting pieces. There is nothing more satisfying than playing your first Mozart piece perfect! Of course, the time and commitment needed to develop these core skills and pass exams has to be weighed up against other school and social life activities.