Monday, 14 July 2014

Cool as....

I want to introduce you to the cool wall:

Before we go any further, I'll put my hands up and say this idea was totally stolen from Top Gear, but with a few subtle, but important differences.

1) It's about music, not cars. Sounds obvious I know.
2) It's driven by the students who are not an audience.
3) The arbiter  is a Clark, without a son.
3) It's governed by a few rules that ensure that any debate is fun, while respectful.

The cool wall is without a doubt the most engaging part of my music programme. When my classes arrive each day, their eyes are invariably drawn to this space- who has moved up, who has moved down, who is new? It's so engaging / distracting that for some classes, it's the first thing we do, just so I can get their attention back.

A Typical Cool Wall session runs like this:

We all move over to the Cool Wall then someone is chosen to speak about an artist on the wall who is sitting  too  high or low.
I'll ask the speaker to expand on his/ her opinion then throw it open to debate. When I think we're done ,we vote. If half the class agree with the original moot, the card is moved.
Sometimes I throw in a new card. Sometimes I propose that two cards are swapped. I'm always open to request for a new card too.
This 10 minutes of seemingly frivolous fun  allows me to:

-Encourage real debate on a topic  that the students feel strongly about. Debates rage across weeks  and the kids often get more passionate and articulate as the weeks go on.

-Run a musical barometer on which artists are  and not cool, which informs my choices around songs that I will use to teach music with.

-Challenge the students' ethics in relation to their musical taste.

So it's pleasing to report that in general, your average  pre-teen can justify his/ her favourite artist and can can come up with some damn good reasons why The Wiggles are way cooler that One Direction.
They can tell you how they feel betrayed by Miley and how they just don't get Lorde
Sometimes they will vote for stuff  because their Dad likes it.  ACDC, GnR, and Metallica make occasional forays into coolness. In their eyes Michael Jackson and Bob Marley are immortal gods who will be cool forever.

 But only as cool as Ariana Grande and Five Seconds of Summer.

And on that  bombshell,

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