Narratives of Note: The Dynamics of Socially Just Music Education Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
  • LaGarry, Alison
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • The field of music education has historically constructed ‘professional’ music educator identity as divorced from historical, political, and moral commitments, categorizing these responsibilities as components of ‘personal identity. This strategic dissection of identity is in direct opposition to the tenets of Social Justice Education (SJE). In an effort to move toward more inclusive curricula and classroom practice, there has been significant emphasis on multiculturalism over the last fifty years. While the aims of multiculturalism are noble, efforts at highlighting other cultures often become tokenistic in practice and, as such, do not engage with the social and political critique that are central to SJE. Previous research has centered on the merits and practical elements of teaching multicultural perspectives of music, as well as the socialization of pre-service music teachers into the professional field. Recently, however, a few scholars have begun to call for a critical shift in the aims of music education toward social justice. In order to inform music teacher education in support of this critical shift, this study analyzed the personal narratives of seven music educators and one visual art educator who maintain moral, ethical, and political commitments toward equity in their teaching practice. The study sought to answer the following research questions: What are the life experiences of music educators who take a stance toward social justice in their work? What are their conceptualizations of social justice, and how have these conceptions been constructed as such? How do these music educators conceive of their own identity and agency regarding issues of social justice? The study used personal narrative inquiry as both methodology and frame. Findings suggest that the participants see unique possibilities for socially just music education practice, despite significant instrumental and conceptual constraints. There was variation apparent in the way that participants engage with and seek to accept or resist constraints. Thus, there exists dynamic a space of agency in between these possibilities and constraints, where music educators make moves to engage in socially just practice. The degree to which each participant resists or desires to resist constraints is grounded in their positional identities and life experiences.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Huff, Daniel
  • Rong, Xue Lan
  • Noblit, George W.
  • Bettez, Silvia
  • Price, Charles
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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