Walden University Goals I currently teach elementary music in an urban school district. My school district has 35 elementary schools and 5 high schools. I have been teaching in an inner city school for 18 years. At one time, big city public school systems have been the target of criticism from virtually all points of political and social circles. Today’s inner-city schools are faced with what may be a unique situation for which there is really no historical precedent. A century ago, the big cities of America were educating children who were “foreign”. They, along with their parents, were viewed by many within the public school education system as having a set of values and aspirations. But times have changed.. The pressures on today’s big city public schools are a direct result of economic hardship and the instability of family values. Many families, if they exist, have two parents working where 30 years ago women would stay at home. Many of the students in the big city public schools also have no father figure in the house to look up to. This causes behavioral problems in the schools as well. American children are facing many challenges such as gang violence, AIDIs, and substance abuse. Perhaps one of the most potentially dangerous environment for today’s child is within inner cities where crime and poverty are serious problems. My goal in my career is to help my students use music as an escape from their troublesome life style. Since music is a universal language and is the only subject in school that can utilize all other subject matter, I try to tie in the role of music in the past to the role of music in the present. I use music as a catalyst to other subjects such as math and science so that the child can see its relationship to things outside of the music room. I try to find a common variable between music that is old to the music that is new. I find it very hard sometimes to make a connection between the two because the music my students listen to is so destructive. My personal and professional goal is to help children understand how to listen to and understand music of various genres and have the ability to compare it to the music that they are accustomed to. I want them to understand where music came from and why it is written the way it is. I want them to feel the music, not just hear it as noise. I feel that furthering my education at the doctoral level will enable me to be a better educator and researcher in music education and will give me the power to bring my students one step closer to enjoying music rather than seeing it as just another period in their school schedule. Teaching elementary music in the urban schools is very different than teaching music in the suburban environment. I have to deal with many different ethnicities and religions whereas many of the suburbs do not. My school is made up of African-American, Hispanic, Egyptian, and Caucasian students mostly of poor families. Some of my students come to school homeless, hungry, and barely any clothes on their back. These children come to school with a lot of baggage and I want to be able to make a difference in their lives. Teaching music is a good way to reach many of these kids but sometimes ethnic and racial boundaries cause a loss in translation. This is why I chose to pursue a PhD in Education specializing in Elementary Music and the Urban Society. I want to study my field more closely and look at what others have found and what they have done to reach these kids. I don’t want to study just music itself, but I also want to focus on the role it plays in the urban schools. While studying the musical philosophies of Orff , Kodaly, and Dalcroze, I want to tie them in with urban educators and philosophers such as Howard Gardner and others. Many times I feel like I am not getting through to the students and I feel helpless. Working with students of so many races and religions, it is very difficult to find a common thread in music that all will understand. The hardest part of teaching in the urban schools is student discipline. I find myself spending more time disciplining than teaching. After 18 years, one would think that discipline would not be a problem and I believe that to be true if it was in the suburban environment. They have other priorities in mind like where their next meal is coming from or where they are going to sleep tonight. While studying for my PhD, it will give me the opportunity to improve my ability to teach music in the urban schools. By becoming a scholar-practitioner in my situation, I will hopefully empower the students to want to learn music thus causing social change. Once I obtain a PhD, I might consider teaching at a college level and prepare others who want to teach music in the urban schools.
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