Imagine if you will… a music class in inner-city Miami. Kids of all cultures blending together in the most amazing heterogeneity. Influences from calypso, congo, bolero, Afro-Cuban jazz, hip-hop, southern roots rock, salsa, merengue, and more. They all meet together in the music room as an educator tells the narratives of our cultures through notes on the page.
Kids are cultured, they have a release, they have an escape from the demands of their day. It’s likely the only time they can express themselves in this way, and maybe the only time they’ll get to do it in their lives. This classroom has a special weapon too. A vibrant teacher, full of energy and ideas, connecting to these kids in ways that just can’t be found in the STEM courses.
That’s what one Miami classroom looked like a few years ago. But this classroom isn’t like that anymore. Now, because of high-stakes tests and constant pressure from the district, our vibrant young music teacher is forced to lecture on tested subjects for nearly the whole of the time she has these kids. She’s thinking of moving on from the profession; in any other world, she would have, if not for these kids. Those few minutes she gets to teach music still give her a spark of what she had… and still lights up those kids.