Guided Response: Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts. In your responses, compare the 21st-century skills and cross-cultural skills your peers identified with the ones you described. You are encouraged to ask questions about their posts. Questions might include requests for clarification on points made or for elaboration on an area of their post. Though two replies is the basic expectation for this discussion, for deeper engagement and learning, you are encouraged to provide responses to any comments or questions others have given to you. This will further the conversation and provide you with opportunities to demonstrate your content expertise, critical thinking, and real world experiences with this topic.
Participating in the Landfill Harmonic project has given these Paraguayan students the opportunity to learn communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. By witnessing the resourceful creation of these instruments, the students have learned the importance of critical thinking and problem solving, and the value of a creative mind—as the video states, “Even trash can become a creative tool” (Case, 2012). By learning to play these instruments, each student has developed their creative skills, broadened their creative potential, and honed their ability to express their individual creativity.
An orchestra is comprised of many varied components— individuals, instruments, melodies, and harmonies. To successfully create orchestral music that is aesthetically pleasing, the students must regularly practice critical communication and collaboration skills. They must work together to achieve their musical goals, and to do so, they must also listen and cooperate with their teacher—who, in this case, is also their conductor.
Career Skills from the Framework for 21st Century Learning
Additionally, this experience has given the students the opportunity to learn essential 21st century life and career skills, such as flexibility and adaptability. Since the recycled instruments are slightly more difficult to play—and require added attention to sound quality and tone—this has helped the students to become more flexible and adapt to their given resources. Waiting for the completion of each instrument—and helping with the process—has also taught students flexibility in the form of patience. They have begun to learn that instant gratification is not always the most rewarding result. “Building these instruments with garbage and to refine them to a level in which these instruments constantly sound good has been a process that has also taught the kids that things in life don’t always happen immediately—that things don’t just happen overnight” (Case, 2012).
Being a part of this incredible project has also encouraged the students’ initiative and self-direction (P21 Partnership). Learning an instrument is not a simple task—in fact, it requires much individual energy, time, and effort. In order to acquire the skillset necessary for playing in the orchestra, each student must take the initiative to practice at home, and self-direct his or her lessons to ensure improvement. This also demonstrates a significant level of productivity and responsibility—both of which are critical 21st century life and career skills (P21 Partnership).
Although the majority of the students in the Landfill Harmonic project are from similar backgrounds—from low-income families within a Paraguayan slum with limited resources—these children may have come from families with different ethnic roots, different religious beliefs, or different attitudes and behaviors. By working together to create music on their recycled instruments, the students that participated in this project have gained cultural competence through their knowledge and skills, self-awareness, and perception of differences within the group. By collaborating and communicating with one another to achieve a common objective, the students have gained an invaluable understanding of the complex cultural identities and local diversity within the place that they call home.
Beyond the realm of their hometown, these students have also had the opportunity to tour Europe—learning about the vast and exciting cultural differences found around the world. The opportunity to travel to new cities has provided these students with confidence, excitement, an eagerness to learn, and an enriched understanding of culture and self.
Social factors and attitudes needed to initiate the project, including a consideration of the cross-cultural skills necessary for supporters to sustain the Landfill Harmonic project
This project would not have been possible without the strong social desire to do something fruitful and productive. At one point in the video, they explore this idea, stating that: “This wasn’t part of the plan. This was just a social program that we conceived to make good use of our free time—making art together and that’s it” (Case, 2012). This desire to use creative energy as fuel for something—anything—was critical to the development of the Landfill Harmonic orchestra. The social factor of poverty and boredom– which led many of the youth to engage in drug and alcohol abuse— is the same social factor that eventually led to this beautiful evolution of time, energy, and efforts. Additionally, many of these students were excited to have instruments they could take home without fear of being robbed or having them sold for drug money (Case, 2012).
In order for supporters to sustain the Landfill Harmonic project, it is necessary for them to recognize the unique cultural identities that have created this beautiful and meaningful project, and to contribute to the continuation of this project without attempting to conform it to their own cultural identities and perceptions (California Childcare). The soul of the Landfill Harmonic is within its carefully crafted and innovative instruments, and within the creative and collaborative spirits of the builder, the composer, and the musicians. These unique components need to be maintained and in order to do so, audiences must be aware of the dynamics when they interact with these individuals. They must respect the Landfill Harmonic Project for all of its cultural depth and diversity, while self-assessing and acknowledging their similarities and differences (California Childcare).
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