Wednesday, December 22, 2010
If you ask teachers about what part of teaching they find most enjoyable, many of them will cite watching their students experience that classic “a-ha!” moment – when the unknown becomes understood.
This past summer, Joshua Wanger, a Music Education major at Westminster Choir College, had his own “a-ha” moment as he watched and learned how 16 middle school students could ready a full-scale performance of Seussical, Jr. in just five days of rehearsal. As a part of his classroom experience at Westminster Choir College, Wanger had learned about strategies teachers can use to empower students to experience conscientization – often described as the “a-ha!” moment – or evidence that deep and inner knowing occurred. But this time, rather than watching students experience this in person, Wanger observed them via live video – and had his own “a-ha” moment, virtually, as he realized the power of critical pedagogy in music education.
By using videoconferencing to access middle school classrooms, Dr. Frank Abrahams, professor and director of Westminster’s Center for Critical Pedagogy, connects his students on campus with music teachers in the field. As a result, the students watch how theory connects to practice in ways that are both real and virtual. In cyberspace, the music teachers connect to the college without leaving their music classrooms.
Abrahams, who has been using cutting-edge technology to augment his classroom-based courses and to teach online courses, is now spearheading a new project through Westminster’s Office of Continuing Education: the Online Certificate in Critical Pedagogy for Music Educators. Together with James Jordan, associate professor of Conducting, and Scott McCoy, professor of Voice, Abrahams has designed a four-course certificate program to benefit schoolteachers, conductors of school, church, and community choirs, and applied teachers at all levels.
“Capitalizing on our successes in online education,” said Robert Annis, dean and director of Westminster College of the Arts, “I am pleased to announce the creation of the Online Certificate in Critical Pedagogy. Music educators used to drive for hours to attend the Saturday Seminars taught by our faculty, and with this new program, they have the option to experience the quality of Westminster’s continuing education programs from their homes or classrooms.”
In an age where most college students have never known a life without a computer, it is important that teachers know how to use technology to maximize the learning of their students. And, in the world of music education, Westminster is leading the way.
To learn more about Westminster’s Center for Critical Pedagogy and its Online Certificate program, please visit www.rider.edu/criticalpedagogy.