Research Paper: Child Psychology Music and Brain

Pages: 10 (2774 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] McDonnell foundation is upset that the motivation for music education is being hijacked. "If our intent is to use science and research to form policy, to guide educational practice and to give parents assistance, it's incumbent on people putting forth those arguments to get the science right. If they choose not to get the science right, if they choose to misinterpret it or over-simplify, we just have another instance of political rhetoric." (pbs.org)

He brings up the key dispute over policies which are based on this research. In the scientific community, there exists significant suspicion regarding Raushers research.

But the scientific community is always slow to accept new theories. Science is built like a pyramid, with each new finding resting on the layer below it. When a new finding comes into the arena, researchers are slow to embrace the findings; (unless of course they performed the research) Bruer's book The Myth of the First Three Years, questions the research on these three points. Bruer says:

Many animals experience a burst of brain maturation activity around the time of their birth, and there is not proof that ties this to music, or that music is the catalyst.

There exist in the first few years natural 'critical periods' of brain growth

The research which led to the assumption that music aids in brain development was built from experiments with rats that may or may not apply to humans. (PBS.org)

Like many scientists, Bruer argues that there is not enough research to directly tie the events of brain growth and a musically enhances environment together. Bruer and others argue that focusing on the first three years of development may be a mistake because the entire child hood period, from birth to 18 years is a period full of dynamic growth which should not be ignored.

Another argument against promoting the benefits of the so called "Mozart effect," has placed the music education profession in an uncomfortable position of having their treasure and love of music defined in terms of other areas of education. The measured benefits of music in educational abilities revolve around spatial/temporal reasoning, which is thought to be foundational for success in higher mathematics, proportional reasoning, engineering, structural design, etc. Spatial temporal reasoning is the key to forming complex thought chains, and following through ideas to logical conclusions before the thoughts are turned into actions, such as demonstrated in games like chess. These are high-stakes benefits, making others, such as opportunities to socialize and to meet partners, or simply enjoy the beauty of music, pale by comparison. "Will music educators be placed in the position of having to justify music education on this new basis?" (Reimer, 1999) The competition between liberal arts and technological education is already fierce, and defining one in terms of benefits for the other is an educational cultural stigmata.

The question of who is going to pay for the additional musical education in the classroom is always a factor in discussions of music education. For decades, the financial crisis in schools has forces eliminated the closure of non-essential programs. Quite often this includes music programs. Unfortunate though it maybe, that some of the most culturally rewarding classes are eliminated when a school hits a financial bump in the road, this trend has been documented nationwide. So if the political policy makers have their way, and successfully launch zero - to - three initiatives in the schools, the question of who will pay for it may make the entire discussion irrelevant.

Finally, a sociological lens needs to be trained on this Georgia initiative. The parents of children are being given Cd's of classical music to play to their children. How many of these parents are going to follow through with the request. Head start clientele are typically those at the lower end of the economic scale. In what ways are there any guarantees that these parents will utilize the Cd's more than once or twice? Being told that something will benefit their children is one thing. The likelihood of those clients following through with a long-term program, of exposing the child to a musically enhances environment for regular daily periods over a 3-5-year period is quite another. The music is likely different than other musical interests in the home, and when the clients see no immediate reward for introducing foreign sounding music in the home, they are likely to put the CD in the same place as the last AOL introductory disk that came in the mail - which is in the trash can.

Proposed changed to the Program based on the above arguments.

The program of handing out musical CD's to parents whose children need the greatest amount of assistance available is a terrific plan, but poorly executed. In order to facilitate positive change in the lives of the children, parents will need to see the positive results of the music's influence before they are likely to change their personal habits to include musical enhancement for their children in their homes. One suggestion to correct his probable failure in the program would be to have regular play times in head start centers in which the children are exposed to the music. This could be correlated to parental class schedules or other times when parents came to the head start offices to receive assistance, or take advantage of services. In this way, the program could be monitored and measured for success.

Secondly, more research needs to be done in this area to verify the positive effects of music on children's mental development. The factors which are skewing the research need to be eliminated and direct application of research on large populations need to be completed in order to verify the positive relationship between this program and the expense of operating it.

Finally, regarding the expense of providing music enhancement to large numbers of people, the government largess is not an appropriate source of funds. The government should be providing safety nets for people who need a helping hand, not hammock for American citizens who want a hand out. The private sector, businesses, music institutions, corporate America, and even private universities should be looked to as the source of funding. This approach will ensure that funding will not be wasted, as with much of the funds which flow through bureaucratic organizations. When money is given by corporations, who had to compete to earn the funds, they are typically more watchful over how it is spent, and the real and tangible benefits which are produced in the communities.

Sources

Leng X, Shaw GL. (1991) Toward a neural theory of higher brain function using music as a window. Concepts Neurosci. 2:229.

Moughty, Sarah. The Zero to Three Debate. (2002) Frontline. Accessed 8 Dec 2003. Available from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/science/zero.html.

Prigge, D. (2002) 20 ways to...: promote brain-based teaching and learning. Intervention in School & Clinic, Vol. 37.

Rauscher FH, Shaw GL, Levine LJ, Wright EL, Dennis WR, Newcomb RL. (1997) Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's reasoning Neuro. Res; 19:2.

Reimer, B. (1998) Facing the Risks Of the "Mozart Effect' Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 81.

The Mind Institute (2003).

Online

http://www.mindinst.org/MIND3/about/about-who.html

Viadero, Debra. (1998, 8 April) Mind on the music Accessed 8 Dec 2003, Available from http://www.edweek.org/ew/vol-17/30music.h17

White house conference on early childhood development and leraning. (1997, Feb 4) Accessed 8 Dec 2003. Available from: http://clinton3.nara.gov/WH/New/ECDC/

Watling, C. (1998) The arts, emotion and current research in neuroscience. Mosaic, Vol. 31.

Wing, L. (1992). Curriculum and its study. Handbook of Research on Music Teaching and Learning, ed. By Richard Colwell, pp. 196-217. New York: Schirmer Books. [END OF PREVIEW]

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