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image source: https://montegobayculturalcentre.org/resource/the-history-of-jamaican-music/

I continue to reflect upon the many lessons learned in Jamaica. Over the past 3 years, I witnessed the influence and appreciation of music by just about every Jamaican. I was all aware of Reggae music and the sound of the Caribbean. However, I never imagined just how Jamaicans seem to connect with music no matter the setting or environment.

Throughout my 3 years in Jamaica, I attended a few Catholic Masses at local churches in Kingston. It was obvious that many of the worshipers reacted much differently to the melodies and accompanying instruments at Mass. From my perspective, there appeared to be a slight difference as the congregation sang familiar tunes throughout the service. The distraction was subtle and yet very evident with every song. As the congregation sang, most moved to the rhythm of the song. Young and old alike let their bodies sway to the music or their hands gently move in concert with the song.

Grocery shopping, especially on a Sunday, is a different experience for me. Many customers while shopping quietly join in the singing of the music pumped in the store. It seems that on Sundays, most grocery stores play Gospel or Religious music. And without the boldness of a performance or a prayerful presence, most Jamaicans seem to simply sing or hum along with the music while shopping.

And finally, waiting in line or at a gathering, I've noticed Jamaicans either moving rhythmically or in a way that may suggest a dance. The music could be out loud, in earbuds, or one’s mind. The subtle movement seems to identify an appreciation for a song, a melody, or just a dance. I've witnessed this at the bank, in the grocery store, or waiting for something to begin - a movie, performance, or activity.

I’ve discovered that music is more than just a melody or a rhythm for Jamaicans; it's a profound expression of their culture, emotions, beliefs, and values. This deep connection to music goes beyond mere entertainment, shaping the very essence of Jamaican identity and community life.

One of the striking aspects of Jamaican culture is how music serves as a bridge that brings people together, transcending boundaries of background and setting. Music weaves its way into the fabric of daily life, creating a shared experience that unites individuals in a harmonious timbre.

This unity through music seems to reflect a broader community-oriented mindset prevalent in Jamaican society. It's not just about listening to music but actively participating, singing along, and moving to the beat. This active engagement underscores a collective appreciation for the arts, where melodies, songs, and dances are celebrated as integral parts of everyday existence.

The love for artistic expression runs deep in Jamaican culture, manifesting in various forms across different contexts. From the vibrant rhythms of Reggae to the soul-stirring sounds of gospel music, Jamaicans embrace a diverse range of musical genres that reflect their rich cultural heritage. This diversity of musical styles mirrors the multifaceted nature of Jamaican identity, blending influences from Africa, the Caribbean, and beyond into a unique tapestry of artistic expression.

Moreover, the profound connection to music hints at a deeper spiritual and emotional dimension within Jamaican society. Whether it's finding solace in a soulful ballad or celebrating life through upbeat tunes, music becomes a channel for expressing feelings and experiences, offering a glimpse into the soul of the Jamaican people.

In essence, these observations paint a vivid picture of Jamaicans as a people deeply rooted in their cultural heritage, adaptable to diverse influences, and bound together by a shared love for the arts and spirituality. Music, in all its richness and diversity, serves as the heartbeat of Jamaican culture, pulsating with the rhythms of unity, creativity, and profound human connection.

As I continue to learn from and observe Jamaicans regarding music, I see learning as a common thread that binds AISK teachers. 

Just as music forms the essence of Jamaican culture, deeply ingrained in their identity and way of life, learning constitutes the core essence of AISK teachers, shaping their profession and guiding their actions. Just as there is a deep connection between music and Jamaican culture, so is there in learning and the AISK teacher. I realize that music is more than just entertainment for Jamaicans; it's deeply rooted in their identity and daily lives, influencing how they perceive themselves and interact with others. I also understand how learning plays a central role in AISK teachers' work, defining their purpose and actions as they educate and mold the minds of their students.

An AISK teacher is first and foremost a learner who teaches and not a teacher who learns.  This is the difference at AISK because learning is fundamental to teachers, defining their role and impact in society. AISK teachers are driven by a continuous pursuit of learning, always seeking to improve their methods and support their students' growth.

Learning is not just an activity but an essential element that shapes identities, guides actions, and enriches cultural expression and educational progress.  This is an AISK teacher!  

The best teachers are learners… Can you see that in your child’s teacher? Come see the difference at AISK.