VOICE Charter School's approach to academics and music:
One of our cornerstone values is efficacy. Children cannot believe in their own capabilities without having a positive attitude towards success and failure. Our hope is that this leads them to understand that "Smart is not something you are, it is something you get."
The self-esteem movement in schools has lost some credibility in the last few years because there have been weak correlations between children feeling good about themselves and doing well academically. That is because some school self-esteem programs have not deliberately linked self-esteem with success.
The efficacy movement has addressed this by coupling self-esteem with this specific orientation towards success and failure. For self-esteem to be lasting, the children will have to do well, and in our understanding of the work of Walter Mischel, they have to develop the patience and tenacity to incorporate their successes and failures into what Jim Collins calls the "Fly Wheel of Success."
We believe music instruction and all academic subjects in elementary school should be fun, joyous, and life-affirming. This instruction should also be of a rigorous nature, to the extent that we are preparing children to be musicians and scholars who can be admitted into competitive schools if they choose to do so.
We are seeking out how much the children can do and creating the conditions for them to do it by working with their minimal zones of frustration, where there is pedagogical differentiation so that they are pushed just the right amount without becoming frustrated in a way that would block their progress.