The formulation of possible selves through music and singing April 21, 2015Posted by Editor21C in Early Childhood Education, Engaging Learning Environments, Primary Education, Secondary Education.
Tags: arts education, boys' education, creativity, learning and the brain
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from Sarah Powell
There is a range of research now surrounding the connections between music and the brain and the effect of music on learning. For example, in Australia the work of Anita Collins focuses on what happens in the brain when a person plays a musical instrument. From the UK Sounds of Intent is a project that investigated musical development in children with learning difficulties and subsequently produced resources to support educators.
The work of Kate Stevens, Peter Keller and Barbara Tillman from UWS, and Gary McPherson from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, demonstrates the significant research being undertaken in the area of music and neuroscience. In addition, the recent contribution to this blog from Associate Professor Sue Roffey highlights the reduced emphasis on creativity, critical thinking skills and well being in the new curriculum. Research demonstrates that music (and other arts) has a definite impact on the brain, on learning, on memory, on well being and in the case of my research, identity.
I came from a different perspective in my doctoral research. Rather than using numbers to justify the impact of music and singing, I asked individuals to share their personal stories and because of other research themes (masculinity, success) I focused on males who sang in choirs. So I set out with a different agenda to that of the neuroscience underpinning the research identified above and despite my different angle, it became abundantly clear that music and singing has a profound effect on the identity of an individual.
With this is mind I considered the role of identity from the perspective of possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986). Possible selves are the formulations or descriptions of a future self or selves. They represent desired, expected, or feared future selves, and sometimes a combination of these. The theory argues that a person’s present or current self is not simply defined by their past, but by their perceptions of the future as well.
Possible selves have been described as what a person wants to become, what they expect to become, or what they want to avoid or fear becoming (Cross & Markus, 1994; Freer, 2009, 2010; Markus & Nurius, 1986; Sica, 2009). The past is remembered as positive or negative experiences and whilst these experiences shape the future they do not determine or restrict it. Whilst past experiences cannot be revisited in a physical sense, the associations that are retained as memories remain potent and regulate a person’s desire to pursue or avoid a perceived end point. Strahan and Wilson (2006) suggest that it is not simply the memory of an event or circumstance that has influence. Rather, it is “how the past was recalled” (p.4).
Amongst other things, participants in my research were asked about their past experience of music, particularly during their school years. All were currently involved in music in various capacities and planned to continue in this way or develop their involvement further, and they all described positive school experiences. They identified music and singing as a normal part of their life at home. They had parents and grandparents who enjoyed singing, playing musical instruments or listening to music.
Participants reported enjoying classroom music at school and having numerous opportunities to be in the band or the choir, and many received instrumental tuition at school. Interestingly many participants attributed their present path to their past and their subsequent aspirations for the future. The sense of music and singing being part of the individual was strong:
Singing is quite an intimate thing. You’re revealing a lot about who you are in a sense (Secondary School Choir, Year 12 student).
This attitude was coupled with a very strong enjoyment of singing, communicated by all participants in some way:
I love singing, it’s my favourite thing to do, anywhere any time (Junior School Choir, Year 5 student).
Without question, the ability to produce some beautiful sounds in performance is rewarding, emotionally satisfying (Community Choir, male aged 50+).
The research demonstrated that the identity of these participants was built on family background and traditions, grounding them in something bigger than themselves but still intimately connected. It contributed to self-confidence and healthy self-perception in the here-and-now and it provided an outlet for personal expression and spirituality. It provided purpose and direction for the future, offering choices and opportunities for career and pleasure. It also gave them meaningful spaces to work collaboratively and creatively and to develop deep friendships.
Not only is neuroscience proving that music impacts the brain and learning in positive ways, but people are revealing that music and singing is an integral part of how they define themselves. It has significant ramifications for the formation of identity as well as personal well being and must be part of a child’s education. I will conclude by mentioning the work of Sir Richard Gill who continues to advocate the necessity of providing quality music education to every child, arguing that the impact of arts education is broader than simply teaching music:
The very things that promote literacy and numeracy are the arts, beginning with serious arts education in the early years. If we want a creative nation, an imaginative nation, a thinking nation and a nation of individuals, then we must increase the time for arts education, especially music education. If we want a nation of non-imaginative robots who can do tests, then we are well on the way to achieving that condition (Richard Gill’s Blog, 2011).
Cross, S. E. & Markus, H. R. (1994). Self-schemas, possible selves, and competent performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(3), 423-438. DOI: 10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.113
Freer, P. K. (2009). ‘I’ll sing with my buddies’ – Fostering the possible selves of male choral singers. International Journal of Music Education, 27(4), 341-355. DOI: 10.1177/0255761409345918
Freer, P. K. (2010). Two decades of research on possible selves and the ‘missing males’ problem in choral music. International Journal of Music Education, 28(1), 17-30. DOI: 10.1177/0255761409351341
Markus, H. & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41(9), 954-969. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.41.9.954
Sica, L. S. (2009). Adolescents in different contexts: The exploration of identity through possible selves. Cognition, Brain, Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 13(3), 221-252.
Strahan, E. J. & Wilson, E. (2006). Temporal comparisons, identity, and motivation: The relation between past, present, and possible future selves. In C. Dunkel & J. Kerpelman, Possible selves: Theory, research and application (pp.1-15). New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Sarah Powell is Education Content Manager at Musica Viva Australia. She is also a sessional academic in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, and a UWS doctoral candidate whose thesis is currently under examination.
Tags: exemplary teachers, learning communities, technology and education
from Jane Hunter
This post is dedicated to my parents, Patrice and Noel, and to Anna who all had great passion for education and sadly passed away in 2014.
On the 5 March Sir Ken Robinson will give the first annual Anna Craft memorial lecture: Educating for creativity: From what is to what might be at Exeter University in the UK. It will be available on YouTube at a later date. Professor Craft passed away last year after a very brief battle with an aggressive cancer. She was 53. She and Sir Ken worked closely together for many years prior to his departure to the US and it is her seminal work in ‘possibility thinking and creativity’ (Craft, 2002; 2005; 2006; 2011a); 2011b); 2012) that leaves a significant intellectual legacy for education in schools. Groundbreaking studies – years ahead of their time.
Craft’s writing and scholarship formed the epiphany moment in my doctoral studies – that instant when all that I had read, the data from research, the years of teaching and thinking about the role of technology in learning in schools … it suddenly all made sense. Light bulb! Light bulb! Light bulb! I emailed Professor Craft at the time and she emailed me back – we planned to work together this year.
Teachers who forge ahead and integrate technology in the most highly creative, intellectual and imaginative ways view childhood and youth as empowered, not at risk, in digital landscapes. The notion of LifeWork became important in my research and “how creativity in children and young people must engage with the needs and rights of the inward, in the home and the personal, and with the outward, in work and in public life” (Craft, 2005, p.150). Craft (2005) provided an important and provocative lens quite early on, that on the one hand questioned the promotion of children’s creativity in schools, and yet on the other, there was a “parallel drive towards technicisation and bureaucratisation, which, had the effect of reducing creativity in the teaching profession” (p.10). Creativity and the role of the Arts in education is also a major pre-occupation in Robinson’s intellectual work; both scholars write, argue, research and promote ideas of possibility in teaching and learning in schools.
The name High Possibility Classrooms or HPC for a fresh model for contemporary teaching practice seemed a logical step towards the end of my research of four exemplary teachers’ knowledge of technology integration in the classrooms of 6-16 year olds in NSW public schools. The doctoral study is now the subject of a new book Technology Integration and High Possibility Classrooms: Building from TPACK; it was published by Routledge on March 9, 2015. See here to order a copy.
The warrant for the book stems from a need for robust theory drawn from research to underpin technology integration in learning in education contexts – Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge or TPACK (Mishra & Koehler, 2006) is a well known theoretical framework, heavily researched and is highly respected in schools and in higher education – the HPC model for technology integration builds on the important work of TPACK. HPC has five conceptions – see Figure 1 and 22 themes of students learning processes and teaching strategies – see Figure 2.
Professor Punya Mishra has written the foreword in the book. He refers to the core of TPACK as directly relating to teacher creativity: “the framework acknowledges that teaching (particularly in novel, and technology-rich contexts) is complex, and requires both problem seeking and problem solving. The flexibility and range of knowledge that are necessary to integrate technology thoughtfully makes technology-savvy teaching an inherently creative act” (Hunter, 2015, p. xi).
Briefly, the first chapter in Technology Integration and High Possibility Classrooms: Building from TPACK examines global policy and education trends in technology integration in Australia, the USA and the UK. There is a critique of East Asian models of schooling and a picture of technology integration in schools in Singapore and South Korea is illustrated. Chapter 2 discusses other models for technology integration principally TPACK and there is a brief reference to SAMR (Puentedura, 2006). The view of HPC as action knowledge is proposed towards the end of this chapter.
The following four chapters (3-6) are the case studies from the research and readers come to understand the worlds of Gabby, Gina, Nina and Kitty: early years, primary or elementary, middle and high school classrooms. In January this year Education HQ commissioned a series of articles about the teachers in the HPC study and if you click on each of the links above you will see a quick offering from the classrooms to acquaint yourself with the kind of practices that I argue will shift teaching and learning in our schools.
In Chapter 7 the commonalities and differences in exemplary teachers’ knowledge of technology integration are assessed from the point of view of the research. In the final chapter the question of whether all schools can create High Possibility Classrooms is posited from an urgent need to re-tool the discipline of education (Furlong, 2013) using conceptions of theory, theory, creativity, public learning, and life preparation. Collectively, the HPC conceptions work in concert with the fifth conception, contextual accommodations to create action knowledge (AK). These outcomes occur through actions both at the level of practice, through policy considerations, out of ideas for professional development for teachers and future research in schools.
Each chapter in the book has an end section for professional conversation using a series of discussion pointers to guide professional learning in technology integration in teacher education whether that might be in-service or pre-service teachers. I trust it will be useful. The case studies in the book are timely and add to what we know about technology integration from exemplary teachers’ perspectives – see Figure 3. They are inspirational examples for all teachers, they are being mapped to the AITSL standards and more research to validate the HPC model in mainstream classrooms is currently being conducted in primary and high schools.
I will use Technology Integration and High Possibility Classrooms: Building from TPACK in my own teaching – in teacher education we have the dual imperative to know how to use technology/learning management systems/blended learning approaches and so on; however we also have to model the rich pedagogical practices that we want our future teachers to action in classrooms.
I look forward to continuing the conversation.
Craft, A. (2000). Creativity across the primary curriculum: Framing and developing practice. London: Routledge.
Craft, A. (2002). Creativity in the early years: A lifewide foundation. London: Routledge.
Craft, A. (2005). Creativity in schools: Tensions and dilemmas. Abingdon: Routledge.
Craft, A. (2006). Creativity and wisdom? Cambridge Journal of Education, 36(3), 336-350.
Craft, A. (2011a). Approaches to creativity in education in the United Kingdom. In J. Sefton-Green, P. Thomson, K. Jones, & L. Bresler, (Eds), The Routledge international handbook of creative learning. Abingdon: Routledge.
Craft, A. (2011b). Creativity and education futures: Learning in a digital age. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.
Craft, A. (2012). Childhood in a digital age: Creative challenges for educational futures. London Review of Education, 10 (2), 173-190. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14748460.2012.691282
Furlong, J. (2013). Education – An anatomy of the discipline. Abingdon, England: Routledge
Hunter, J. (2015). Technology Integration and High Possibility Classrooms: Building from TPACK. New York: Routledge.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054.
Puentedura, R.R. (2006). Transformation, Technology, and Education. Retrieved from http://hippasus.com/resources/tte/
Dr Jane Hunter teaches in the School of Education and is a member of the Centre for Educational Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She researches in the field of technology integration and learning, pedagogy, curriculum and teacher professional development.