Chapter 13: Music, The Crucial Ingredient

Chapter 1:   Setting the Scene
Chapter 2:   Where to Start?
Chapter 3:   OECD PISA Reports
Chapter 4:   UNICEF Report
Chapter 5:   Decline of USA
Chapter 6:   The UK Experience
Chapter 7:   My UK Experience
Chapter 8:   People at the coalface
Chapter 9:   Stressed out Children
Chapter 10: Finland
Chapter 11: The Interview
Chapter 12: Pointers for the Future
Chapter 13: Music – The Crucial Ingredient
Chapter 14: Conclusion 

The Importance of Music Education

Children who take music lessons before the age of six tend to be more intelligent than their peers, according to the results of a study in Canada. 

Academics at the University of Toronto found that the IQ scores of six-year-olds who had taken keyboard or voice lessons were, on average, three points higher than normal. 

The study appears to support the Mozart Effect – a theory established in 1994 which claimed that listening to Mozart temporarily increases problem solving abilities. 

Professor Glenn Schellenberg, of the psychology department at the University of Toronto, who led the research, said: “It was a response to all the brouhaha about whether or not music makes you smarter.” 

In the latest study, children were recruited via a newspaper advertisement and divided into four groups. One group received free weekly keyboard lessons and another received free weekly singing lessons. Both sets of lessons were at Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music. The third group was sent to free weekly drama classes, and the remaining group received no lessons at all.

Before the experiment began, every child underwent a three-hour IQ test. A second test nine months later showed, as the team expected, that the IQ scores in all four groups had increased by at least 4.3 points. 

The children who had taken keyboard or voice lessons, however, scored on average, 2.7 points more than those who had taken drama lessons and no lessons. 

Professor Schellenberg attributed the latest results to the skills students needed to acquire in order to learn music. He said: “There are so many different facets involved, such as memorizing, expressing emotion, learning about musical intervals and chords.” 

The possibility of an association between music and intelligence has interested scientists in recent years. Previous studies have linked musical aptitude to literacy and music lessons to mathematics achievement. 

Last year, Hong Kong scientists claimed that children who took music lessons possessed superior verbal memory skills – the ability to remember spoken words. Other scientists have suggested that children who attend music lessons may have higher IQ scores because they tend to come from families that are better educated and wealthier than those of their peers. 

This latest study is the first to feature a large number of children selected at random from a range of backgrounds. 

The phenomenon was identified by researchers who assessed the ability of test subjects to complete four-dimensional puzzles. They discovered that the highest scores were achieved by people who had listened to Mozart before tackling the puzzles. The effect has since been attributed to Mozart’s stimulation of mood. 

Yesterday, the findings were supported by Melissa Sayer, the mother of five-year-old Molly, from London: “Molly has been taking piano lessons for one year – and she is top of her class at school. At the end of the year she won a prize for her academic achievement, for reading and maths. I hadn’t made the association before, but it does make sense now that I think about it.” 

Music in Venezuela

Throughout Venezuela, 250,000 children are spending six afternoons a week, from 2pm to 6pm, intensively studying classical music. 

The System or El Sistema as it is called (official name – National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela), provides an instrument and music education for any child between 2 and 18, assigns each an instrument and organizes children into groups with instructors. 

Typically practicing for two, three or even four hours every day, the children are performing recognizable music virtually from the outset (+Saturday morning) for years on end. 

One of the most remarkable features of the System is that children begin playing in ensembles from the moment they pick up their instruments. The principle is that students are learning to behave as much as they are discovering how to make music. 

As Igor Lanz, the executive director of the private foundation that administers the government-financed sistema says, “In an orchestra, everybody respects meritocracy, everybody respects tempo, everybody knows he has to support everyone else, whether he is a soloist or not …. They learn that the most important thing is to work together in one common aim.” 

The creator of the System is Jose Abreu, a classical musician and economist, who wanted to bring high culture to as many of his countrymen as possible. He started in 1975 with 11 students and volunteer teachers, working out of a garage. Now, there are 200 youth orchestras and 246 centres (known as nucleos) nationwide. The success of the System has resulted in continual funding from successive Venezuelan governments whether the oil-rich country’s economy is doing well or otherwise. 

Abreu is proud to state, “Art is not an ornamental accessory to education, but each child has the clear right to musical, art or literature instruction from an early age ….. The System allows the talent to be detected early on. That’s important. It’s detected in grade school, not the conservatory, so that the child can in time be developed and taken to the maximum artistic level ….  I felt that music education and art should be part of the patrimony of the whole country. 

From the beginning, I had the idea of inserting strong teachers in classrooms in sectors with dire social needs …. In those cases, it’s not just the lack of a roof or of bread; it’s also a spiritual lack, a loneliness and lack of recognition. The philosophy of the system shows that the vicious circle of poverty can be broken when a child poor in material possessions acquires spiritual wealth through music. 

Our ideal is of a country in which art is within the reach of every citizen so that we can no longer talk about art being the property of the elite, but the heritage of the people,” and perhaps most importantly of all, “An orchestra is the only group where people get together to reach agreements and they reach those agreements producing something beautiful.” 

Supported by the government, the System has started to introduce its music program into the public-school curriculum, aiming within five years to be in every school and to double its enrollment to 500,000 children. President Hugo Chavez is a fervent supporter, and the government funds the System with $29 million a year. 

It is seen as a flagship of national achievement, with children from youth orchestras frequently accompanying him on his visits, as Head of State, within Venezuela and abroad. Officially opened at the end of July, the Centre for Social Action Through Music is an 11-story, $25 million building on the edge of downtown Caracas. 

Javier Moreno, general manager of the System, relates how the it is doing far more than teaching children music however much this is important in itself, “We’re interested in creating citizens with all the values they need to exist in society, responsibility, teamwork, respect, cooperation and work ethic. Many of the facilities are situated in some the poorest barrios in the biggest cities as well as far distant villages.” 

Inter-American Development Bank is helping by underwriting it with a $5 million loan and is now advancing $150 million for the construction of seven other regional centres of the sistema throughout Venezuela. Development banks prefer to lend money for infrastructure: sewers, roads, water-treatment plants. 

Within the I.D.B., many bankers objected to a loan for such a frivolous-seeming project. “One of my colleagues joked, ‘Are you going to finance the poor kids to carry the instruments of the rich kids?’” says Luis Carlos Antola, a representative of the bank in Venezuela. “Because there is the feeling that classical music is for the elite.” 

In fact, the bank has conducted studies on the more than two million young people who have been educated in the sistema, which show that two-thirds of them are from poor backgrounds. Other studies link participation in the program to improvements in school attendance and declines in juvenile delinquency. 

Weighing such benefits as a falloff in school dropout rates and a decline in crime, the bank calculated that every dollar invested in the sistema was reaping about $1.68 in social dividends. 

Susan Siman is director of the centre in Montealban, a neighbourhood in Caracas where as many as 600 young people learn at any one time. “Some of these children are semi-abandoned and some come from very poor classes. They’ve had it rough.” She continues, “The goal is not about music. It’s about discipline, respect, achievement through work and teamwork, and never, ever taking away the idea of being excellent.” 

The System continually attempts to attract children living and existing in the most unfortunate circumstances. It has introduced pilot programmes in three cities for homeless children who mainly subsist as scavengers in garbage dumps. 

This is a radical social project in which children, often living in unthinkable circumstances, are given the chance to punch through the poverty cycle – with the help of skills learned through music. For these very young children, says Siman, “the method uses singing, dancing, arts and crafts, and there’s lots of focus on parents’ involvement.” The key, she says, is that “music is seen as play rather than a chore, so the kids don’t push it away.”  

Instead, the pleasure and pride that the children took in their collective effort was infectious. Compare how children learn in Venezuela to what happens in most developed nations where children spend tedious, boring hours practising alone. 

The comparison is worth emphasizing. In Venezuela everything is communal, everything is about the team. In the System, all practice is supervised. 

As Sir Simon Rattle, the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic observes, “You also immediately notice a different feeling among these children from the competitive, individualistic atmosphere that prevails if you are a young musician hot-housed in Britain. The culture here is one of mutual support. The point is not to be the best, but to be the best you can. The height of achievement for these children is to be part of the national youth orchestra; in other words, to be part of a group, an ensemble.” 

As one commentator said, “There is much less focus on aspiring to be the Nietzschean superhero at the front playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto, or what have you – an aspiration that is, after all, nearly always frustrated.”

Maibel Troia, musical director at the Don Bosco centre, said a bigger challenge is reaching children in the barrio who are inherently distrustful of outsiders who make promises. “They think it’s another lie, or that it’s not a real future for them,” she said. “But as they start coming and they get uniforms and they see the possibilities to do the work or go out and see concerts, they become excited about it.” 

But more than that, the vitality of this music-making, the rapt faces of these young musicians, render words such as “urgent” and “passionate” utterly inadequate. In fact, everything they do makes European and North American ways of dealing with classical music seem grey and dull. 

These young people, aged up to 25, are playing as if their lives depended upon it, and in some ways, perhaps they do. 

The programme has produced star musicians. The most famous is Gustavo Dudamel, who at 25 has conducted orchestras in Berlin, Israel and Los Angeles. Still in his mid-20s he was offered a five-year contract as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, starting in the 2009-10 season.  Rattle has called him “the most astonishingly gifted conductor I have ever come across.” 

In addition, Rattle says the sistema “is the most important thing happening in classical music anywhere in the world.” At 26, Dudamel is the most-talked-about young musician in the world. 

Edicson Ruiz, at nine, was stacking supermarket shelves to contribute to the family’s meagre income. At 17, Edicson Ruiz was selected as the youngest bass player to join the Berlin Philharmonic. 

At just 12, Legner Lacosta was on the streets. Leaving school, his mother and stepbrothers, he started hanging out in Pinto Salinas, a notorious Caracas barrio where bullet-ridden shacks pile on top of each other in a ravine nestled beside the motorway. By 13, Legner had a crack habit and a .38 calibre gun and a regular role as a drug-dealer and thief. 

“I got trapped by money,” he says, “when I was high, I felt as if I were somewhere else; you clear everything out of your mind and start to invent your own world.” By 15, the police caught and beat him, and he was sent to a young offenders’ institute in Los Chorros, east Caracas, among 150 glue-sniffers and abandoned or abused children. 

Forced to go cold turkey, Legner withdrew into himself. “I was bored and didn’t want to do anything,” he says. But one day, the Youth Orchestras Project turned up and he had his first meeting with a clarinet. “When the instruments arrived, the director told me there was a clarinet left. I didn’t know what it was. I was fascinated when I saw it. He taught me the first four notes. I played those four notes all day.” 

By 17, Legner was back at the detention centre, but this time in a smart polo shirt and trendy thick-rimmed glasses, there to teach clarinet. “Music saved my life,” he says. “It helped me let out a lot of the anger inside. If music had not arrived, I wouldn’t be here today.” Thousands of other underprivileged kids across Venezuela have made a similar journey. Legner has now moved to Germany to continue his studies. 

International interest, external funding and the continued flush of high oil revenues seem set to keep the Venezuela production line of budding musicians rolling. The System is filled with confidence with an excess of audiences, young and old, who pack out our theatres, which is quite the opposite to Europe. 

The result is that conductors from abroad are continually attracted to Venezuela as the place to visit. They say that Venezuela is like nowhere else in the world because every time you come you get to work with a different orchestra. 

So if the programme’s future looks so bright, how many more Dudamels can we expect? “Ah, we’ve got plenty like him,” says a spokesman, with a smile. “Just you wait.”

Finland and Music 

Finland is filled with crisp air, steamy saunas, Nokia cell phones, double vowels, hockey players, and classical music. 

Helsinki alone is home to five symphony orchestras. Nationwide, there are 21 more, as well as 12 regional opera companies. 

At least eight world-class conductors, including the Minnesota Orchestra’s Osmo Vanska and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Esa-Pekka Salonen, were raised and trained in Finland. More than 30 full-time classical composers live and work there. 

How has a nation of 5.2 million people — a population only slighter greater than the state of Minnesota’s — produced such a surplus of talent? 

Outstanding music education is the primary reason. At its source is a national attitude that music is not dessert, but an essential food group for personal, cultural and civic sustenance, and as deserving of government subsidy as health care and schools. Before the advent of the euro, an image of Jean Sibelius, the country’s most famous composer, adorned Finland’s currency. 

“It’s so ingrained in our culture; there is never a question about the government putting a lot of money into it,” said Osmo Palonen, director of advanced studies at Finland’s top music school, the Sibelius Academy. “This also makes music very democratic here, not just something for the elite.” 

Direct comparisons between music education in Finland and Minnesota are unfair. The Finnish government subsidizes the arts and education to a much greater degree than here. Finnish schools are structured differently, and the country’s entire education system is superior in general to most others around the world.

But taking a look at how and why the Finnish system works can offer inspiration and ideas. 

Starting Young
Vänskä, who began playing the violin at 9 and the clarinet at 10, would be considered a late starter today. On a Friday morning outside the West Helsinki Music School, there were almost as many baby carriages as cars parked in the lot. Inside, a music class for infants and their mothers turned into a hot lunch of homemade soup and fresh-baked pastry downstairs. 

“Oh, this is educational?” said Maarit Forde with a laugh as she spooned some soup into 10-month-old Matias’ mouth. “I thought it was fun.” 

Riita Poutanen, the school’s principal, knows each child by name and gives each a yearly individual assessment, making sure that each is properly matched with an instructor. “Especially nowadays, children are so alone,” she said. “They don’t have true relationships with enough adults, and they should have one with their music teacher.” 

Just a 20-minute cab ride away, the 15-year-old Espoo Centre in the Helsinki suburb of the same name houses an orchestra, a theatre, a concert hall and a music school. In one basement classroom, 10 children aged 4 to 6 hopped on feet clad in bright Marimekko socks to help them grasp the concept of 4/4 time. 

When asked by their teacher to tell a visitor what they were grateful for about music, one impish boy replied, “I’m not — I’m just sorry we aren’t allowed to eat anything right now.” 

Kids will be kids in Finland, just as they are everywhere else. But on that same day upstairs at the Espoo Centre, in music-theory class, a dozen 8 to 10-year-olds still wearing their snow boots were studying music theory – voluntarily. 

At this age, they are able to sing a song, then skip up to the chalkboard and write down the notes, the tempo and other details. The students at Espoo put on more than 200 concerts each year. 

In Vänska’s view, one of the most important qualities setting Finnish music instruction above its counterparts is how early children begin playing in chamber ensembles. “For kids, playing as a group makes learning music so much more enjoyable than the individual lesson,” he said. “It helps develop the musical ear along with social skills.” 

All Finnish students are required to take seven years of music coursework. Also, third graders begin taking up to four hours of electives, allowing them to start “specialising” at a much younger age than Americans.

“If you only educate those with a special talent for an art, the culture loses,” Poutanen said. 

Children begin school a year later in Finland than they do in the USA. But in many Finnish households, children learn to read music before they learn to read words. At the East Helsinki Music Academy, director Gza Silvay developed an early-learning method for kids too young to read that is based on matching notes with different-coloured strings as well as images of animals. 

In Minnesota, by contrast, music education for younger students faces constant budget cuts. On Monday, the Edina school board will vote on whether to make significant cuts in its public-school district’s fifth-grade music program, despite 80% participation by students in that grade. 

“Music is getting hit at the middle-school level, and anything beyond general music classes are vulnerable,” said Kathleen Maloney, executive director of the Minnesota Alliance for Arts Education. “We’re lucky that arts have been declared a core subject in our state, and that artists and arts organizations in our community are so generous with their time in the schools. But we need to change kids’ daily experience.” 

Concerned parents across Minnesota are dealing with dwindling music-education resources by lobbying school boards. At Seward Montessori, a public elementary school in Minneapolis, parents held a fundraiser to help pay the band teacher, Maloney said. 

Organic Composition
Finland’s economy was mostly agricultural until the 1950s, when rapid industrialization fuelled a southern migration, enlarging Helsinki and turning some formerly rural villages into small cities. In the 1960s, as different sorts of revolution were playing out across the globe, a sort of musical revolution occurred organically throughout Finland. 

These smaller cities started municipal music programs, often launched by locally prominent families, then maintained by the communities, nearly all of which also began a tradition of summer music festivals – still a common way to spend holidays in Finland. 

“It was all born naturally and locally, not designed from above,” said Pekka Hako, a music historian and former head of the Finnish Music Information Centre. “It’s almost like it’s just in the air, in our national character. That is its strength.” 

A love of classical music only serves as a catalyst for the creation of contemporary music, Hako said: “The aesthetics of composing in the 1990s was everything melting together. People are willing to hear new voices, not just confirm the old ones.” 

The music scene definitely doesn’t all centre on Helsinki. Kuopio in central Finland, a sister city of Minneapolis, has one of the best new music halls in the country, along with the handsome, acoustically flawless Sibelius Hall in Lahti (where Vänskä leads the local orchestra).

Five professional trombone players, including the Minnesota Orchestra’s Kari Sündstrom, were schooled in Tampere. Even the most remote northern city, Rovaniemi, has a strong music program. 

There is hardly a family in Finland, Hako said, that is not “emotionally connected” to music. Nearly 50,000 youth between 9 and 17 are enrolled at a music conservatory. 

Sündstrom, who has been with the Minnesota Orchestra for the past nine years and lived in the USA for 12 (he played hockey for Juilliard), began music lessons at 5. His parents had no music training; his father was in construction, his mother in the food industry. Yet he and his two older brothers are musicians. “I started out on the trumpet like one of my brothers, but switched to the trombone because I didn’t want to compete with him,” he said. “Also, my facial muscles are more suited to it.” 

Tuition is nominal, he added: “The only money you really have to spend on school is for books.” In fact, private fees account for only 16 per cent of music-school funding; national and local governments provide the rest. 

Sündstrom’s wife, Eeva Savolainen, has degrees in voice and music education. While she only recently began teaching part-time at her children’s school in Roseville, she has observed some differences. “In Finland, all music teachers are good musicians themselves and so can be great role models that way,” she said. “Also, if you want to go to conservatory and take private lessons in Finland, you must take theory and try out. Here, if you have the money, you get the lesson.” 

“Good for the Brain”
In Finland, classical music has little of the elitist aura that tends to be the case in the United States. In the 1970s, there was an opera boom; two-thirds of a total 250 Finnish operas were composed after 1975. All over, little towns began staging operas, sometimes outdoors, sometimes with plots based on local subjects or themes. 

Here, learning and listening to music are truly democratic passions. Most top-priced tickets for orchestra concerts are about $25; for the best opera house, the top ticket is $50. And because the government kicks in partial tuition at private music institutions as well as public ones, many more families can afford one-on-one lessons for their children. 

Fred Plotkin, a New York-based music author and researcher, has been to Finland on musical-study trips four times in the past two years. “The first time I was there, I checked out the three local TV channels one night,” he said. “On the first two channels, they were showing classical concerts. On the third was a debate, in Finnish. When I asked the desk clerk at the hotel what the debate was about, he said whether or not to build a fourth concert hall in Helsinki.” Needless to say, funding was approved. 

He added, “In Italy, where classical music and opera were once omnipresent, with the generation growing up now there seems to be no pride or knowledge or sense of necessity about it,”“Finland has completely devoted itself to music, not for any emotional or moral uplift, but because it is good for the brain.” 

David O’Fallon, president of MacPhail Centre for Music in Minneapolis, sees the U.S. attitude as cultural bias. “It’s somehow built into our DNA here that the arts are extras, not fundamental,” he said. “Music is not a ride on a carousel. It is not something you teach so you can have fun little entertainers at the keyboard for your home parties. It is essential to the neurological development of children, not what you tack on after all the supposedly important work has been done.” 

In Finland, that attitude has become as permanent and pervasive as seven months of snowfall. “Finns operate on the basic principle that music is good for people — all people,” Hako said. “Music education doesn’t only provide us with musicians. It provides us with audiences to go see all those orchestras and operas.” 

Vänskä removed his glasses and held them a short distance from his face, to illustrate the myopia he believes politicians can display when the subject is the arts. “When you invest in culture, it always comes back, always.” 

Funding Music Education in Finland
Funding for music education is roughly divided between the federal government (44 per cent), local authorities (40 per cent) and private funding (16 per cent, in the form of student fees, etc.). Music instruction at private institutions also is subsidized, and higher education is free. 

Half of Finnish adults have master’s degrees; they are required for teachers. Every child is required to take music through age 14. As early as third grade, they may elect to take up to four hours per week. Every year, about 55,000 students choose to pursue musical education at the university level. (In the USA, only about 40 per cent of 47 million K-12 students receive music instruction of at least 40 hours per year.) 

About 50,000 students are enrolled in 150 music institutes throughout the country, which also has 11 conservatories and, at the university level, the internationally renowned Sibelius Academy. Enrollment in such institutes is competitive: Only 39 per cent of applicants are accepted.


Gradually, but far too slowly for the many children in countries such as the USA and UK, we are realizing that music and art are crucial for childrens’ wellbeing and learning. 

Countries such as Venezuela, Finland and, excepting the disastrous present policies, New Zealand are showing that these subjects are not only crucial for balanced neurological development, but of enormous benefit to society. 

It is especially important for countries like Venezuela where there are large numbers of poor, music can assist, even determine, that a child from the poorest and deprived background can realise his worth as a human being to himself and to society. 

Matias Tarnopolsky, the artistic director of the New York Philharmonic, describing his own tour of the sistema in Caracas, “It reminded me of the reasons I went into the music world as a profession.” 

I am of similar ilk; I know why I became an educator and what my tasks are. Although never holding any office of any importance, I still hope to make a contribution to education wherever anyone will listen to me. 

Previously, that occurred in New Zealand and for that I am eternally grateful and I do not have any doubt that there is a way to balance and nurture neurological development in all children so that their wellbeing and learning is optimized. If this occurs you end up with a far more fulfilled, happier and well-adjusted individual. 

Music, art and drama are crucial in this regard but so are many other ingredients I could describe. Having dealt with administrators in UK for nearly 40 years (my homeland) and USA for 27 years (where I now live part of the time), I am not optimistic that they will support and implement the policies that will produce an education in which children will thrive and excel but that is another story.

If interested, Mollet Learning Academy (MLA) and WideHorizon Education Resources (WER) produces Teaching Packs that are designed to appeal to the heart, head and hands. Original material is the Mollet Learning Academy (MLA) Teaching Packs (written initially for New Zealand teachers). On request from USA teachers, monitoring and assessment procedures were added and renamed WER Teaching Packs to distinguish them from MLA Teaching Packs. All lessons are designed to appeal to the heart, head and hands. 

Business Plan at

For overall content of Ancient Civilisations please click
Program Overview Ancient Civilisations
For overall content of Ancient Kush please click  Program Overview Kush
For overall content of History of California please click
Overview Teachers Handbook CA
For overall content re improving reading and language skills through history please click Overview Reading History
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching
mathematics please click Overview Teaching Math
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching
fractions please click Fractions Teacher Handbook
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching multiplication tables please click Multiplication Tables Teachers Handbook 

Previous PowerPoint presentations converted to pdfs for wordpress
Ancient China P_China
Ancient Egypt P_Egypt
Ancient Greece P_Greece
Ancient India P_India
Ancient Israelites P_Israelites
Ancient Kush P_Kush
Mesopotamia P_Mesopotamia
Early Humankind/Prehistory P_Prehistory
Ancient Rome P_Rome

Fractions P_Fractions
Multiplication Tables  P_MultiplicationTables

The following free sample lessons (sorry limit one at present) are available in this order: Ancient Civilisations (Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient India, Ancient Kush, Ancient Israelites, Ancient Rome, Mesopotamia, Prehistory/Early Humankind), Fractions, Multiplication Tables, History of California, See below titles for descriptions.

Ancient China  (Lessons 4/5 of Module 2)
Mathematics, Counting Rods and Chinese Abacus
Ancient Egypt (Lesson 3 of Module 3)
Papyrus – how it is made, activities etc
Ancient Greece (Lesson 1 of Module 2)
Story “Parrhasius and Helena”, Guided Reading,
The Court of Law, Simulate an Athenian Court of Law.
Ancient India  (Lesson 3 of Module 2)
“Asoka and the Mauryan Empire,” “India’s National Emblem,”
Assessment Rubric for India’s National Emblem,
Ancient Kush (Lesson 2 of Module 2)
Story “Expedition to Jebel Barkal,” “Jebel Barkal: A Poem,”
Guided Reading, Review Exercises
Ancient Israelites (Lesson 2 of Module 1)
Story “Abraham,” Father of a Nation, Guided Reading
Ancient Rome (Lesson 3 of Module 2)
“The people of Rome speak out,” Story “Julius Caesar,”
Crossing the Rubicon, Guided Reading
Mesopotamia (Lesson 4 of Module 3)
Story “Gilgamesh,” “The Death of Enkidu.”
Prehistory/Early Humankind (Lesson 2 of Module 2)
The Crô-Magnons including story “The Lascaux Caves”,
Guided Reading and “The Cave Paintings at Altmira.”

Fractions SubUnit 3.4 Drama: A Tale of Fractions
A free lesson/drama involving students in a drama about the Pied Piper of Hamelin

Multiplication Tables SubUnit 3.7 Ten Times Table: Mr. Pickles
A free lesson, activities, story, game/, patterns,
cooperative learning activities about the ten times table

History of California Lesson 5.6 The Gold Rush: Part 1
A free lesson describing the background of the gold rush and life in the gold fields

For video clips please see
Ancient Civilisations
Ancient China
Multiplication Tables
McLaren Rd talk
Be the ONE who listens 

Since advent of social media all material is now in pdf format (no postage or processing fee). Physical copies (postage/processing fees apply) can be provided at additional cost – please contact MLA.
Each SubUnit (not Unit) costs USA $19.95
  NZ $24.95
(This price includes permission to photocopy)

1. The MLA approach to education believes in developing the creative and imaginative side of the student in harmony with the intellectual and cognitive. To achieve this, MLA Teaching Packs make stories and drama an integral part of the lessons and involve students through storytelling, art, simulations, drama, craft, discussion and creation of a personal record.

2. There are MLA Teaching Packs for teaching
a) Ancient Civilizations/World History
b) History of California and
c) Mathematics (Fractions and Multiplication Tables)

3. In a MLA Teaching Pack you will find teacher guidelines, stories providing an in-depth experience, information sheets presented in an interesting and stimulating format, activity sheets, suggestions for further research, maps with related activities, questions for discussion and assessment, dramas for class/school performance, guidance for the student’s personal record or portfolio, a variety of review exercises and contents designed and structured for authentic assessment

4. For an explanation of the philosophy behind the writing of these packs click here
(David Mollet’s HomePage)

5. If you are interested in how your students can work with top quality papyrus (imported from Egypt) click here.

6. We have also customized our material for USA public schools. This material includes monitoring and assessment procedures for students some of which are not based on the MLA approach.

7. Information on workshops/presentations for introducing the MLA approach into public schools available at: here (WideHorizon) and here (Waldorf))

8. Click here to read what teachers think about our lessons/newsletters.

“These resource packs contain unbound, ready-to-use reproducible masters, that are varied, simple, and appealing to students. The interactive strategies suggested are suitable for independent, small-group, and whole-class assignments.”
(Grade 6 Course Models – California State Department of Education)

9. Click here to go to author’s experiences in the Waldorf world.

10. Click here for details of on-line courses accredited by San Diego State University.

Dr. David Mollet
NZ: h 09-555-2021 m 022-101-1741, 41 Hilling St, Titirangi, Auckland 0604 
USA: 619-463-1270, 6656 Reservoir Lane, San Diego, CA 92115 (Skype waldorfedu)

1) The material was initially written for New Zealand teachers but on request from USA teachers, monitoring and assessment procedures were added. To view this material please visit
WideHorizon Education Resources (WER) Waldorf Education Resources (WER)
2) MLA is also involved in researching on an international basis, what works and what doesn’t work. Most of the research results can be seen at while a draft of a book The Task for New Zealand Education is at
3) Blogs at
4) Business Plan at
5) Papyrus


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