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Alexandra Finnie

Seminar in Music Education


Professor: Dr. Kaiser

This class has been very influential in shaping my views on teaching and learning. I have

developed a much better understanding of various philosophical positions about the value and

importance of education and music. The readings, class discussions, and history presentations

were very informative, and have helped me develop my personal philosophy.

The content of this class was also very interesting. We studied philosophy and

educational history from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the present day. It was definitely a lot

of material and information to cover, but the class discussions, and the required summaries

helped me understand the material better. This class (and my fellow classmates) represent the

idea of pansophism (Descartes, Comenius) because we want to learn everything that there is

to know, so that we can become more informed and effective teachers. I have learned the value

in studying history because learning from historys successes and failures can help me make

informed decisions for the future. I found it interesting to notice the swinging pendulum, or in

other words, the back-and-forth of ideas and values throughout history, and I find it intriguing to

think about how our present-day educational world will be taught one-hundred years from now.

In addition to the content of the class, Dr. Kaisers philosophy and approach to teaching

have greatly inspired me. Dr. Kaiser has a very humanist-style approach to teaching. His desire

for every student to succeed and grow is a central part to his teaching. He framed the class in

the context of helping us to develop and grow as teachers, instead of approaching it as an

opportunity to simply impart facts and information. He is a very caring and supportive leader,

and he genuinely wants his students to succeed. This created a very warm and encouraging

environment that allowed me to feel comfortable, and helped motivate me to want to continue

learning (Maslow). I enjoyed each class because of the content, and because of Dr. Kaisers

helpful attitude. Dr. Kaiser has been an excellent example of an effective and influential teacher.
I want to make sure that my students know that I care about them, so I will keep Dr. Kaisers

example in my mind as I interact with my students.

Dr. Kaisers philosophy on assessment also impacted my perception of teaching. He

explained that this type of class necessitates a written information-based test because it

motivates students to spend more time reviewing and studying the information. However,

instead of following traditional grading methods for this test, Dr. Kaiser afforded us the option of

altering and/or justifying our answers if a question seemed unclear, or if we were not sure how

to interpret it (for the multiple-choice section). This allowed us to answer the questions to the

best of our ability, and helped Dr. Kaiser gain a better understanding of what we have learned

from the class. Further, rather than grading the test in a strict right or wrong manner, he

adopted a flexible grading system in which he was willing to drop questions if it seemed as if

many students got them wrong.

These two adjustments to the grading procedure demonstrate his belief in the

importance of the process of learning. Instead of being overly concerned with strict grading

policies and a completely teacher-centered test, Dr. Kaisers alterations to the process shows

that he values the process of learning over the product. Dr. Kaiser also encouraged us to

constantly be making connections between ideas/schema (Piaget, Herbart), so that we could

synthesize all of the information that we were learning (Gestalt), and transfer concepts and

ideas to our own practice of teaching. This experience has helped me realize the importance of

teaching students the value of learning. In a test-driven society, it is difficult for students to focus

on the actual process and value of learning more than the results of test grades. I believe that

placing less of a value on grades as a representation of learning, teachers should primarily

focus on encouraging students to focus on their growth and development (Dweck). This has

influenced me to place less emphasis on grades, and more emphasis on the actual process of

learning. I want to design my grading policies around the concept of promoting continued

learning.