Ours Is a Singing School (1959)

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2002

Singing in school is not simply the stuff of primetime TV and tween movies. At least, not in 1959, when California principal George Bolz took to the pages of Educational Leadership to declare—and perhaps, at his school, to sing—”Ours is a singing school” where “teachers and children daily experience the thrill, an almost scintillating perception of real music enjoyment.”

Bolz tells the story of a successful partnership with a music consultant who worked with teachers and students on music appreciation and performance. In the sessions with teachers, music was used to develop collegiality and community among formerly isolated staff, celebrate individual differences, and develop confidence. Follow-up sessions with both teachers and students served to bridge these lessons into classroom instruction. Much singing, autoharp playing, and general merriment ensued, both in large-group sessions and eventually in daily singing rituals in individual classrooms.

There’s a disarming innocence to the story in today’s high-stakes climate, and although becoming a “singing school” may not be in the realm of possibility, or, depending on your tastes, desirability, it’s hard to resist this paean to the infectious power of the arts to improve a school climate.

In “My Back Pages,” we look at important issues through the historical lens of the Educational Leadership archives. ASCD members can access EL issues from 1943 to the present by logging in.

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