“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” — Albert Einstein

World In Tune explores the Ancient Civilizations of Egypt, Sumer/Babylon, India, China and Greece in a new way. It presents works of Art from these civilizations with a particular emphasis on Music. Although music is the main thrust of World In Tune, it becomes difficult to separate and classify subjects as Art or Literature or Music because WIT is an integrative approach to learning. As kids become immersed in exploring what these ancient peoples created, or more simply what they had to say about themselves and the times they lived in, they are introduced to cultures which had a more holistic approach to living and learning—so this integrative approach is the natural result.

Although World In Tune is meant for math, history, literature, art and music teachers to come together and add their expertise to the study, there’s enough background material in these different areas to allow one teacher to present it.

For the student, the approach is to immerse him or her in the particular project right away. If cuneiform, the writing script of the ancient middle east, is talked about—kids try it for themselves with clay; or if Egyptian writing is mentioned they can dance by taking the positions of the ancient hieroglyphics. By introducing artistic works from these civilizations and allowing kids to try creating things for themselves, they come in contact not just with “past history” but with the people who are their ancestors. Our children can begin to claim the inheritance which is rightfully theirs. What was created in the past can be absorbed, enjoyed and lived in the present.

WIT can be used with any age group. It presents the underlying idea (many times in the form of a myth or story); however, the implementation of the idea depends on the age of the student. For instance if a musical scale is introduced in elementary grades, kids can sing Do, Re, Mi, etc. For older students a discussion of the mathematical formula of half and whole steps could be appropriate.  All this is presented in the book in a way that we hope a teacher can also enjoy.

One aspect of WIT that we did not anticipate is the interest in the book by high school students and adults who actually read it from cover to cover and were quite excited by it. A possible explanation for the enthusiasm could be that the Ancient approach is very close to our Twenty-First Century Holistic  approach, which is very much on young people’s minds in the sense of considering the life on this planet past, present and future.

By Carmela Mercuri and Robin A Smith 

Recording of ancient musical instruments in the Louvre Museum is used with permission.
Instruments of Ancient Egypt + Instruments of Sumer/Babylon + Instruments of Ancient China + Instruments of Ancient India