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ABBA: An Educational Appreciation


In this essay the authors provide arguments that teaching is an art and that teachers can learn much about their trade from a careful study of the performances of other artists. Artists and teachers have the same basic challenge: in order to be successful, both groups have to obtain and retain peoples' attention. This also holds for popular music artists. Ten female student teachers specializing in the Pre-school and Foundation phases of schooling (four-to-six-year olds), and six lecturers from the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, participated in a workshop at a local game lodge. During the workshop, videos of ABBA songs and Mamma Mia! The Movie were analyzed and discussed. The theme of the workshop was "Being an Excellent Teacher: Appreciating ABBA." The 4D-cycle of Appreciative Inquiry—Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny—was used as a methodological framework to identify numerous positive themes with possible classroom applications from the songs and the film. These themes were then connected to educational theory and embedded in the insights of Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Judy Cramer and other people involved with ABBA. A reflective report by one student teacher about the impact the workshop had on her views of teaching and an excellent class that she presented is also included.

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