Bows click wildly as 5th graders bustle hurriedly around chairs and stands, progressing on inscrutable paths that tend steadily towards their assigned seats: the first of the day’s two music classes begins amidst math, science, and ELA classes in neighboring rooms.
Recounted by an untrained passerby, the events of the next 3 to 4 minutes could be labeled generously as disorderly and perhaps more honestly as raucous, but the 11 year old musicians tuning their cellos and basses by ear are, in fact, carefully siphoning order from chaos. As the calamity begrudgingly surrenders to a familiar “open strings” harmony (or the 5th grade equivalent of it, anyway), 16 scrunched up faces that were busily staring at their neighbor’s strings ease one by one into “aha!” expressions of varying intensity.
What’s happening here? And what’s happening beneath the surface?
Much has been said about the need for a hard look at social and emotional learning in our nation’s schools, and indeed socioemotional skills are often - if not categorically - part of a school’s hidden curriculum, or those sets of lessons that are not committed to pen and paper - or maybe not even discussed at all. The trouble with hidden curricula is that they are conveyed with or without the faculty’s awareness, and it only makes sense that school’s that fail to consider the nature of their hidden curriculum are in for trouble, mediocrity, or both.
The Conservatory Model not only deeply considers these hidden curricula but furthermore elevates socioemotional skills into the school’s actual, codified curricula.