Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Education: Is It Worth It?

Yesterday I wrote three essays to fulfill the requirements for a scholarship application from Capella University. The first essay topic asked me to describe how my studies will make an impact in my life and the lives of others around you. Since the question spoke of the future, I found I had to think of the question in terms of the present because my studies at Capella University have already made an impact in my life and the lives of others around me.

One of the major benefits of studying psychology is that it contributes to my creative work. My studies act as a catalyst, encouraging me to think new ideas, which ultimately change my world. The process of becoming an Educational Psychologist whose emphasis is the Arts and Music is allowing me to cross disciplines and encapsulate my work into a meaningful profession that helps others because it utilizes my experiences as a composer/playwright & artist educator in new and innovative ways.

This is evident in a project I have recently designed and submitted to the American Composers Forum's McKnight Visiting Composer Fellowship called "Learning to Lullaby". Through musical composition, performance and recording, this project is designed to assist first-time mothers (primarily pregnant teens who are at-risk and at-risk mothers) in developing responsive parenting techniques that will help their babies bond to them.

Through the composition of original lullabies, composition of Orff-inspired arrangements of traditional lullabies, as well as education of basic musical concepts, mothers will learn how to interact with their babies through music. This program could be implemented in prenatal care classes offered through Planned Parenthood, the March of Dimes, public schools, or hospitals. By combining my knowledge learned from Lifespan Development, Cognitive Psychology and Learning Theories together with my expertise as a composer/playwright & artist educator, I am able to design and eventually implement a program that could have positive impact on a population that needs help. Without my studies at Capella University, I may never have recognized the needs of this population or thought of a way to help them.

Another one of my ideas is to explore ways of incorporating the music teaching method of "Masterclass" into a format that will help novice teachers in general education classrooms. In classical music "Masterclass" is a common experience that publicly demonstrates master teaching in a highly theatrical way. Through observation, it promotes learning at a very high level and advances a teacher's knowledge about teaching. By translating the principles of this teaching medium into a general teaching format, it will provide novice teachers an opportunity to observe teaching knowledge in application so they understand and know how to perform well as teachers entering the workforce for the first time. Because of my education, I have an opportunity to research and write a dissertation, so my doctoral studies provide me with rich resources and the knowledge to do this.

These are only two of my ideas since I began my studies last August; I have many others. What's important for me is to put these ideas into action. Without action and application, knowledge means very little and is only valuable in and of itself. For me, the fun is drawing ideas together and making them live. The study of psychology is feeding this life purpose as it transforms my life. This makes my education "worth it" because it gives me a powerful voice and resources to accomplish my goals.

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