‘Learning Intentions’ vs Unconscious Learning

250 words

I have been very lucky to be offered the chance to teach music across the whole school from Nursery to Year 6. Discovering the Kodály approach has been musically enlightening but also pedagogically reassuring. For the last three years I have been a Year 1 teacher. A major feature of current educational thinking in England, led by Shirley Clarke, Dylan William and others, is the primacy of the explicit ‘Learning Intention’ usually broken down into several ‘Success Criteria’.

The thinking behind this is to empower children. If they know what they are supposed to be learning they can see for themselves whether they have been successful or not at the end of each and every lesson. I found this method very awkward with my class of 5 and 6 year olds, nearly all of whom had English as an additional language. One of the great joys of discovering the Kodály method was finding out that the notion of ‘unconscious learning’ was greatly valued. To feel in touch with a system based on good quality pedagogy grounded in a real understanding of child development, as the Hungarian education system is well known to be, not just in music, was a real relief for me 6. Also to teach music through singing games is a way of making every lesson active and fun. In fact all lessons should be active and fun! It is a privilege to be teaching music through the active medium of singing games because, as Katalin Forrai notes, “…not only musical skills but the entire personality of the child is developed through them” 7.
6. (ed.) Alexander, R. ‘Cambridge Primary Review’ p.280 “Pedagogy signals a much wider frame of reference than ‘teaching’, one which in many other countries has been taken for granted for centuries but in England has had to fight for a hearing.”
7. Forrai, K. ‘Music in pre-school’ p.90