So, last night I was at my 5th primary school Christmas performance of the year (I went to the 6th this morning!). It was lovely, an old medieval church, beautiful singing, members of the school community came along. A knitted Mary and Joseph arrived having spent the last month travelling around the village seeking hospitality from a different family each night. A heart-warming occasion.
The evening kicked off with the Headteacher (female) welcoming everyone. She introduced the Year 6 readers, who in turn read a part of the nativity story, with each readers’ part punctuated by a Christmas song – a mixture of modern and traditional. Reader one – female, reader two – female, reader three – female, reader four – female… can you see where this is going?
Then, a break from the readers to introduce the school choir – around about 15 of them – 14 females! – They did sing beautifully. Then back to the readers – reader five – female, reader six – female.
I glanced around at the school staff – an excellent turn-out in support of the event, with near-100% attendance – All female. Every, single member of staff – oh except for the caretaker/site manager.
There are a number of issues to unpick here.
What role-models are we exposing our children to?
Is music only for girls (and one boy)?
I asked one of the teachers why it was only girls who were readers. She said that when she asked the class, these were the children who volunteered. No boys volunteered. I would argue that as teachers, we should pro-actively be seeking the boys to stand up in this situation, to be confident, to be the readers.
And what about the choir? It’s criminal if we give the impression that singing is just for girls.
We’ve got to overcome whatever barriers exist. – Some might say, well choir practice is at lunchtime and the boys want to play football in the playground – well change the choir practice time!
But whether boys, or girls, why is the choir for a select few?
Singing should be part of the culture of our schools. Every child should sing, it should come naturally. From Nursery/Reception upwards. If we start at a young age, there will not be the awkwardness that is encountered when asking a 10 or 11 year-old to sing with very little previous experience.
So, I’m urging all teachers to sign up to New Year’s Resolution #1 – get your children singing at least once every day.
Share your ideas below to add to the ‘Get children singing‘ resource page that I’m going to now start building on this site.
The issue of lack of male representation amongst the teaching staff at some schools is a bigger issue. – More thoughts to come on this soon.
Oh, and to buck the trend, the Reverend in the church was…..you’ve guessed it – female!