Another Post Got Me Thinking - Specials

Discussion in 'General Education' started by a2z, Nov 18, 2018.

  1. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Why do we call music, art, and gym specials? Aren't they part of the regular curriculum and to be approached as seriously as other subjects?

    I wonder if part of the reason that they aren't taken as seriously is that the profession inadvertently diminishes their importance by word choice. That, in turn, makes them easy to cut or for parents, students, and sometimes other teachers to see them as more frivolous.

    I do remember a time when they were specials and they were all pass/fail, but that was a very, very long time ago.

    What do you call them in your school? Any opinions?
     
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  3. cocobean

    cocobean Companion

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    We don’t call them specials. We only have music and PE. PE is the responsibility of the classroom teacher, but music is with our music teacher.
    I try to integrate art whenever I can, but it does not have a set time in our schedule.

    I feel like the term specials makes the class/subject seem like a reward. “If you don’t do xyz, you will not go to specials!” Like you said, they are part of the regular curriculum and should be treated as such.
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    We call them specials.

    Our students only have specials a few days a week. I feel that every "special" should be a part of the regular curriculum and be offered daily. PE can easily incorporate science, music and art could easily incorporate reading and writing when learning about history and technique.
     
  5. ChildWhisperer

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    Our school calls them "Encore" classes
     
  6. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    We call them by their names.
     
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  7. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    We call them encore classes.
     
  8. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Officially they are called Integrated Arts classes. We all call them specials or just by the class name of whatever we have that day.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

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    DH’s school calls them related arts. My school calls them exploratory classes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
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  10. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Nov 19, 2018

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
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  11. TrademarkTer

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    As soon as someone develops a state test for art, music, or PE, they won't be so "special" any more.
     
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  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I had never heard of "specials" before becoming a part of these forums. Phys Ed and the Arts (Drama, Dance, Visual Arts and Music) all have their own curriculum expectations that students are required to achieve and have as much importance on the report card (and when calculating averages) as every other subject.
     
  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    They all have a curriculum here, too. They used to be tested, but that went away with the last update.
     
  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Specials, lol! Why not just call them by their names? Art, PE, and Music seem like pretty universal terms to me.
     
  15. physteach

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    We use the names, but my grouping of teachers is "specials teachers" indicating that we d not see the kids every day like the classroom teachers. I teach science, though, so I'm kinda in between?
     
  16. physteach

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    We use the names, but my grouping of teachers is "specials teachers" indicating that we d not see the kids every day like the classroom teachers. I teach science, though, so I'm kinda in between?
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Nov 21, 2018

    In a departmentalized setting - high school and, usually, middle school - across the US, art, music, and PE classes almost certainly are simply called art or music or PE, because they have pretty much the same scheduling footprint as any other class.

    My sense is that the term "specials" originated to describe the self-contained setting - elementary school - in which the teacher of record instructs students in the academic core courses every day but, at a specific time, either one of several teachers will take over the classroom or the students will go elsewhere. So the art teacher might come in on Tuesday and the music teacher on Thursday while the kids go to the gym for PE on Wednesday and have computer lab on Friday. One practical result of having "specials" like this is giving elementary teachers a planning period without students. It's a model that's followed rarely, if ever, in California, to my knowledge.
     
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  18. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Nov 21, 2018

    I agree that the term started that way. I just think that the vocabulary used may indicate that it is not to be taken as seriously.

    I remember art, music, and PE as pass/fail. I also remember pass/fail being changed to grades in my later years of school because kids thought they were "special" classes where no one failed if you showed up. Even in HS, gym was pass/fail up until my last year or two. Art, band, and chorus were graded in MS and above because it was a chosen elective.

    I just think that vocabulary sets the tone, and just because it may have been appropriate vocabulary decades ago, it may not be appropriate to set the tone now. I like some of the other terms used by others better than the idea of "special", but I still see these classes, even if they meet less often than others, as just as important and hopefully rigorous in their own way. I think setting the tone for students is part of the battle of getting all on board, including the parents.
     
  19. otterpop

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    That's how I grew up. I miss those days. We also never worried much about tests, standardized or other... We were told to "do our best" and that was it. I'm sure it wasn't ideal but looking back it seems like a much better system than what we have now. Sorry, off topic!
     
  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Not to be contrarian, but societal standards time and time again indicate that our “best” is not good enough. For example, if you ordered a birthday cake and it was haphazardly put together by the preparer, then you wouldn’t purchase it and would send it back because it wasn’t good enough, regardless if the cook did their “best.” Just like a study a researcher submits for peer review, if the abstract, for example, does not meet specific specifications, then the paper is sent back before it is accepted.

    Personally speaking, I think there need to be benchmarks that are minimally acceptable for most things.
     
  21. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Oh, no arguments about that. I only meant that at least students were not having legitimate anxiety over high stakes testing. We took them, but no one made us feel pressured to get high scores. Academic scores may have been a bit lower, I'm not sure, but I think schools taught a more rounded curriculum before all this high stakes testing came along. We had more recess, regular access to the school library, and more art, music, and PE.
     

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