Example #91 Music and Respect

What if music helped children to show respect?

Mattie was doing some basic composition with her class and wanted them to listen with considerate attention to each other’s work as a sign of respect. Often they got excited about performing their own pieces and focused on that rather than on listening to others.

"Before we started, I asked students to listen for ten seconds to the sounds in the room in absolute silence. Afterwards I asked who heard the birds outside, the creak of furniture, the hum of the computer. I explained that in order to listen attentively to one another we need that type of listening. When other people listen to us in that way it can make us feel that what we have to contribute is valued. I asked students to think of times when they had felt that people were not fully listening to them and to reflect silently on how this made them feel. I also asked them to suggest behaviours that gave them the impression someone else was not really listening. Listening carefully is one way of showing respect.

"I divided the students into groups and gave them percussion instruments and three pictures in an envelope. I asked them to choose one picture which they must not show to the other groups. I challenged them to produce a piece of music to express their chosen picture. When it came to performing, the children held up the three stimulus pictures and the others had to listen attentively in order to ascertain which picture inspired the music and then say what connections to the picture they heard in the music.

"I chose the picture activity as it helped the students concentrate and listen carefully, I wanted them to succeed at the listening exercise so that they would feel encouraged. At the end we talked about what it felt like to be listened to in this way."

What’s going on here?

Mattie saw her music lesson as a way of encouraging respect through attentive listening.

She engaged students in reflecting on their own learning behaviours and their effects on others, connecting listening with values, and practising attentive listening to their surroundings and to others' work.

She reshaped her practice by choosing a question and concept to frame the lesson (respect) and using it in her language, creating activities and resources that would influence ethos and allow students to experience the central focus, guiding student interaction (focus on each other's work).

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Respect is an aspect of love; it is honouring the worth of another person. The Bible describes people as ‘God’s masterpieces’ and, as beings created by him, they deserve respect; they do not have to earn it. Respect is the default setting. This type of love is not emotional; it is a decision to behave in a particular way towards others.

What difference does it make?

Most teachers suffer at least some of the time from students not paying attention to them or fellow students. Mattie began to address this with her music activity and designed it in such a way that children got a taste of success and began to connect their listening behaviours with respect for others.

Where could we go from here?

Respectful listening activities can be built into work across the curriculum but, as with the pictures in the music lesson, sometimes helping structures will be needed to aid the students’ listening until this becomes a habit.

Digging deeper

The Bible locates human worth in being God-made and mattering to God. Respect should be our basic response, and all deserve to be treated with dignity as God’s children (1 Peter 2:17). Jesus said that what we do to others he treats as done to himself (Matthew 25:40). Respect in biblical Hebrew is ‘to bow down’. Respect and honour were shown in biblical culture by a physical position. We may not have the elaborate courtesies of some cultures but we can still explore with students how we show respect today.
It is easy for students to go through life glancing at the world and seldom stopping to listen; giving their surroundings and other people superficial thought and attention. This casual glancing and listening can be the result of our over-stimulated environment, but self-absorption, superficiality and a lack of respect can also lead to paying scant attention to the world, its people and what they create. We need to cultivate a deeper way of viewing the world so that we look away from self to the object or person seen. We need the attentive, loving gaze and the listening ear.
God can speak through his world (Psalm 19:1) and through the things people make: through music, poems and artefacts. We need to listen in order to discern whether God’s voice can be heard in what we learn.
The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich

Explore similar examples:

What if students could learn respect through art?
What if studying art involved loving attention?
What if singing in unison were about humility and interdependence?
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1Stop being hateful! Stop trying to fool people, and start being sincere. Don't be jealous or say cruel things about others. 2Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved. 3You have already found out how good the Lord really is. 4Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honoured. 5And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. 6It is just as God says in the Scriptures, Look! I am placing in Zion a choice and precious cornerstone. No one who has faith in that one will be disappointed. 7You are followers of the Lord, and that stone is precious to you. But it isn't precious to those who refuse to follow him. They are the builders who tossed aside the stone that turned out to be the most important one of all. 8They disobeyed the message and stumbled and fell over that stone, because they were doomed. 9But you are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done. The Scriptures say, 10Once you were nobody. Now you are God's people. At one time no one had pity on you. Now God has treated you with kindness. Live as God's servants should 11Dear friends, you are foreigners and strangers on this earth. So I beg you not to surrender to those desires that fight against you. 12Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong. Then on the day of judgment, they will honour God by telling the good things they saw you do. 13The Lord wants you to obey all human authorities, especially the Emperor, who rules over everyone. 14You must also obey governors, because they are sent by the Emperor to punish criminals and to praise good citizens. 15God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right. 16You are free, but still you are God's servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong. 17Respect everyone and show special love for God's people. Honour God and respect the Emperor. 18Servants, you must obey your masters and always show respect to them. Do this, not only to those who are kind and thoughtful, but also to those who are cruel. 19God will bless you, even if others treat you unfairly for being loyal to him. 20You don't gain anything by being punished for some wrong you have done. But God will bless you, if you have to suffer for doing something good. 21After all, God chose you to suffer as you follow in the footsteps of Christ, who set an example by suffering for you. 22Christ did not sin or ever tell a lie. 23Although he was abused, he never tried to get even. And when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he had faith in God, who judges fairly. 24Christ carried the burden of our sins. He was nailed to the cross, so that we would stop sinning and start living right. By his cuts and bruises you are healed. 25You had wandered away like sheep. Now you have returned to the one who is your shepherd and protector. Wives and husbands
1The kingdom of heaven is like what happened one night when ten girls took their oil lamps and went to a wedding to meet the groom. 2Five of the girls were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps, but no extra oil. 4The ones who were wise took along extra oil for their lamps. 5The groom was late arriving, and the girls became drowsy and fell asleep. 6Then in the middle of the night someone shouted, Here's the groom! Come to meet him! 7When the girls got up and started getting their lamps ready, 8the foolish ones said to the others, Let us have some of your oil! Our lamps are going out. 9The girls who were wise answered, There's not enough oil for all of us! Go and buy some for yourselves. 10While the foolish girls were on their way to get some oil, the groom arrived. The girls who were ready went into the wedding, and the doors were closed. 11Later the other girls returned and shouted, Sir, sir! Open the door for us! 12But the groom replied, I don't even know you! 13So, my disciples, always be ready! You don't know the day or the time when all this will happen. A story about three servants (Luke 19.11-27) Jesus continued: 14The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. 15The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country. 16As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. 17The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. 18But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master's money in the ground. 19Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. 20The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more. 21Wonderful! his master replied. You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness! 22Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more. 23Wonderful! his master replied. You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness! 24The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don't plant and gather crops where you haven't scattered seed. 25I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin! 26The master of the servant told him, You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don't plant and gather crops where I haven't scattered seed. 27You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it. 28Then the master said, Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins! 29Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don't have anything. 30You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. The final judgment Jesus continued: 31When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. 32The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats. 33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34Then the king will say to those on his right, My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. 35When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, 36and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me. 37Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, When did we give you something to eat or drink? 38When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear 39or visit you while you were sick or in jail? 40The king will answer, Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me. 41Then the king will say to those on his left, Get away from me! You are under God's curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. 43I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me. 44Then the people will ask, Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail? 45The king will say to them, Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me. 46Then Jesus said, Those people will be punished for ever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life. The plot to kill Jesus (Mark 14.1,2; Luke 22.1,2; John 11.45-53)
1The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what he has done. 2Each day informs the following day; each night announces to the next. 3They don't speak a word, and there is never the sound of a voice. 4Yet their message reaches all the earth, and it travels around the world. In the heavens a tent is set up for the sun. 5It rises like a bridegroom and gets ready like a hero eager to run a race. 6It travels all the way across the sky. Nothing hides from its heat. 7The Law of the Lord is perfect; it gives us new life. His teachings last for ever, and they give wisdom to ordinary people. 8The Lord 's instruction is right; it makes our hearts glad. His commands shine brightly, and they give us light. 9Worshipping the Lord is sacred; he will always be worshipped. All of his decisions are correct and fair. 10They are worth more than the finest gold and are sweeter than honey from a honeycomb. 11By your teachings, Lord, I am warned; by obeying them, I am greatly rewarded. 12None of us know our faults. Forgive me when I sin without knowing it. 13Don't let me do wrong on purpose, Lord, or let sin have control over my life. Then I will be innocent, and not guilty of some terrible fault. 14Let my words and my thoughts be pleasing to you, Lord , because you are my mighty rock and my protector. (A psalm by David for the music leader.) A prayer for victory