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Monday, September 1, 2014

Music, Golf, Humanities, or Algebra: why we must make students study stuff that some adult likes

We are constantly being told why kids must take subjects in school that they obviously dislike. Someone is always promoting the benefits of forcing kids to do what they hate. So, for fun, I found some lists. I start with things very few kids are being forced to study which apparently would be very good for them, and end with things kids are also forced to study because they are also very good for them. See if you can tell who is right (and what we should make kids do even if they hate it.) (Hint: the last one is the best (or anyway, the funniest.))

18 Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument  

1. Increases the capacity of your memory.
Research has shown that both listening to music and playing a musical instrument stimulate your brain and can increase your memory.
2. Refines your time management and organizational skills.
Learning how to play an instrument requires you to really learn how to be organized and to manage your time wisely.  

3. Boosts your team skills.
Playing an instrument requires you to work with others to make music.
4. Teaches you perseverance.

Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort, which really teaches you patience and perseverance.  

5. Enhances your coordination.
The art of playing an instrument requires a lot of hand-eye coordination.  

6. Betters your mathematical ability.
Reading music requires counting notes and rhythms and can help your math skills.  

7. Improves your reading and comprehension skills.
When you see black and white notes on a page, you have to recognize what the note name is and translate it to a finger/slide position

8. Increases your responsibility.
Maintenance and care are very important in keeping an instrument in working condition.  

9. Exposes you to cultural history.
Music itself is history, and each piece usually has its own background and storyline that can further your appreciation of other cultures.

10. Sharpens your concentration.
Playing music by yourself requires you to concentrate on things like pitch, rhythm, tempo, note duration, and quality of sound.  
11. Fosters your self-expression and relieves stress.
It's your instrument, so you can play whatever you want on it!  

12. Creates a sense of achievement.
Overcoming musical challenges that you thought you'd never quite master can give you a great sense of pride about yourself.  

13. Promotes your social skills.
Some of the best people join bands and orchestras, and many times the friends you make here become like family.  

14. Boosts your listening skills.
Although it's pretty obvious, playing an instrument requires you to listen very carefully to things.

15. Teaches you discipline.
The best musicians in the world are masters of discipline which is why they are so successful on their instrument.

16. Elevates your performance skills and reduces stage fright.
The more you get up in front of people and perform, the more you'll reduce any stage fright.  

17. Enhances your respiratory system.
Air is one of the key components in making wonderful-sounding music.  

18. Promotes happiness in your life and those around you.
Playing a musical instrument can be very fun and exciting.  

Sounds great. Let’s make every kid learn to play an instrument.

1. Humility and Respect
Golf requires that you show courtesy to others and that you communicate with respect.   with an exchange of a hand shake.
2. Punctuality
If you are late to the tee box, you are automatically disqualified, no questions asked.  
3. Confession
Golf is a game of honor, and recognizing that a transgression has occurred and taking responsibility for the transgression is a part of the game.  

4. Safety
Golf balls and clubs are very hard and dangerous instruments, and one of the first and foremost rules of golf is safety.  
5. Quiet
Golf requires an amazing amount of concentration, and quiet is required at all times on the golf course.  
6. Visioning
Teaching them how to "see the end in mind,"  is a key to goal achievement.
7. Problem Solving
Rain, wind, trees, multiple sand traps, and deep rough can make for a challenging day of tournament play. These are a normal part of golf and can be an amazing opportunity for clever problem solving and personal growth.
8. Focus
Golf is a tough sport. It requires that you not only know the physics of hitting the ball (and what club to use when) but requires intense mental and emotional concentration.  

9. Practice, Persistence, and Listening
In life, it is important to know that we rarely reach our goal in one "stroke." By practicing, making corrections along the way, being open to coaching, and being persistent, we can tackle most of life's tough challenges.
10. Graciousness
At the end of each tournament, competitors thank and shake the hands of the tournament chairmen and follow this up with a handwritten note of thanks

Wow! Who knew? Every kids should study golf.  

Why do the humanities matter?
Insights Into Everything
Through exploration of the humanities we learn how to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions. Because these skills allow us to gain new insights into everything from poetry and paintings to business models and politics, humanistic subjects have been at the heart of a liberal arts education since the ancient Greeks first used  them to educate their citizens.
Understanding Our World
Research into the human experience adds to our knowledge about our world. Through the work of humanities scholars, we learn about the values of different cultures, about what goes into making a work of art, about how history is made. Their efforts preserve the great accomplishments of the past, help us understand the world we live in, and give us tools to imagine the future.
Bringing Clarity to the Future
Today, humanistic knowledge continues to provide the ideal foundation for exploring and understanding the human experience. Investigating a branch of philosophy might get you thinking about ethical questions. Learning another language might help you gain an appreciation for the similarities in different cultures. Contemplating a sculpture might make you think about how an artist's life affected her creative decisions. Reading a book from another region of the world, might help you think about the meaning of democracy. Listening to a history course might help you better understand the past, while at the same time offer you a clearer picture of the future.

That was from Stanford, so they must be right. Every kid should study the humanities. Sounds a lot like golf though.  Let’s hear from another university (that I have never heard of, but what do I know?)

Ten Reasons to Study the Humanities

1.            To practice the analytical thinking skills you need to be a successful student and employee.
2.            To improve your skill at oral and written communication.
3.            To see the interconnectedness of all areas of knowledge - how it all fits together.
4.            To develop a global perspective by studying cultures throughout the world.
5.            To deepen your understanding and appreciation of other's cultures and other's points of view.
6.            To support and strengthen your local arts community by learning to appreciate the importance of creativity.
7.            To clarify your values by comparing and contrasting them to what others have thought.
8.            To deepen your sources of wisdom by learning how others have dealt with failures, success, adversities, and triumphs.
9.            To appreciate what is enduring and to be able to tell the difference between the meaningless and the meaningful.
10.        To be inspired by some of the greatest minds and thoughts of the ages.

Sounds like golf and music put together. How about algebra?

10 Everyday Reasons Why Algebra is Important in your Life

The key to opportunity
Having the ability to do algebra will help you excel into the field that you want to specialize in.  
Taking a detour on not
Having the ability and knowledge to do algebra will determine whether you will take the short cut or the detour in the road of life.  

Prerequisite for advanced training
If you want to do any advanced training you will have to be able to be fluent in the concept of letters and symbols used to represent quantities.
When doing any form of science, whether just a project or a lifetime career choice, you will have to be able to do and understand how to use and apply algebra.
Every day life
Whether we drive a car and need to calculate the distance, or need to work out the volume in a milk container, algebraic formulas are used everyday without you even realizing it.
When it comes to analyzing anything, whether the cost, price or profit of a business you will need to be able to do algebra.  
Data entry
When working on the computer with spreadsheets you will need algebraic skills to enter, design and plan.
Decision making
Decisions like which cell phone provider gives the best contracts to deciding what type of vehicle to buy, you will use algebra to decide which one is the best one.  

Interest Rates
How much can you earn on an annual basis with the correct interest rate.  
Writing of assignments
When writing any assignments the use of graphs, data and math will validate your statements and make it appear more professional.  

So, algebra teaches you everything and you can’t function without it.  But there are all those people who can buy cell phones without it. What do I know?

What subjects should be required then? My vote is for golf. It teaches quiet and graciousness which is better than interconnectedness and data entry any day.

Oh wait. Here is an idea. Stop telling kids what to study and let them follow their own interests. Nah. Too radical.

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