Director's Corner: On Immersion

Immersion is a powerful learning model, the one all of us go through as we learn our native language, immersed in a world of sounds that we slowly decipher, by associating verbalizations with things and actions we see or feel. It is also the most efficient, although somewhat painful, way to learn a foreign language. And it is what makes our integrated theme approach efficient. sharla and the kids

As we adopt a theme for several weeks and let it permeate the curriculum as much as possible, we come close to immersing our students in a topic they get to explore, experience, and practice from different angles. I think all of you who could join us for the students' musical performances prior to our Thanksgiving Feast last Tuesday will agree that the process was especially successful during our Music theme. It may be so because music is a language of its own.

Immersion helped those students for whom it was a totally foreign language get enough familiarity to dare use it themselves; it helped those already familiar with it feel empowered and explore different genres. Sharla was surprised and delighted when her class, asked what they would rather do at free time, chose to practice their recorder skills. That is what musicians would do, a good sign that the students had gained enough confidence to think of themselves as musicians. As a side benefit, Sharla also reported how fired up her math group was after half an hour of African drumming.

Another good sign was that, at performance time, virtually all students present participated, despite initial inhibitions, self-awareness and stage fright. We were very, very proud of them all.

Now that the students had that intensive 9-week introduction to music, we hope that they will be more invested in the on-going music segment of their regular week. This would be a good time for families to probe their child's interest in a particular instrument and start after school lessons. We can partner with local teachers to host such lessons at Magnolia if there is enough interest.