‘The then be applied to a 160 pupil

‘The
biggest mistake in past centuries of teaching has been to treat all students as
if they were variants of the same individual and thus to feel justifies in
teaching all the same subjects in the same way’- Howard Gardner (Gardner 1994).

 

Introduction

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The
reason for this report is to look into how music is involved within the
curriculum, considering it is not a core subject. Historical milestones will
need to be explored with particular reference to Howard Gardner, along with the
theory that has developed through time with reference to political agendas and
education systems. There are various policies that encompass the delivery of
the music curriculum, including those that ensure wellbeing is being maintained
throughout. This research will then be applied to a 160 pupil Mainstream
Primary School in Kent to assess its own curriculum with positive elements and
potential suggestions to optimise its overall delivery.

 

Historical Context

Aristotle
provided us with one of the earliest references to the benefit of music within
one’s life. ‘Music has a power of forming the character and should therefore be
introduced into the education of the young’- Aristotle (no date). This concept
of forming the character is one that will be explored more throughout this
report and the theorists that are mentioned all contain elements of personal
development rather than purely musical knowledge gained. Firstly, Bruner’s
initial theory of a Spiral Curriculum (Bruner, 2009: 13) expands on Aristotle’s
statement and explains how something is learnt in a progressive style as
something simple, to gaining in complexity over time, as the knowledge on that
subject is greatened. It is also a reminder that the spiral begins with a
breakdown of a subject which can then be built on. This is apparent within the
education system, for example where Maths is first introduced at age 4 and
progressively more information is passed on; where by at age 11, a spiral of
knowledge has been gained. Benjamin Bloom (Bloom, 1956) followed this theory and
focussed on the latter parts of the spiral. He suggested that there should be
more of a focus on the mastery of subjects and to promote higher levels of
thinking. Each stage would have to be ‘mastered’ before progression could be
made. Erik Erikson (Erikson, 1998: 78) continued this theory and believed that
each person must accomplish specific tasks at different stages in their lives.
Development is also not only achieved by the gaining of knowledge, but by
facing a crisis and resolving that crisis independently to learn for the
future. Finally, Howard Gardner (Gardner, 2000) obtained elements from all of
these influences and devised that education was not a singular product, but
rather a continuous process made up of multiple intelligences that can affect each
other if delivered correctly, to reinforce learning. An example of this would
be the playing of a piece of music with a fast tempo that could be applied
within a P.E. lesson to help raise the pupils heart beats and mentally prepare
them for the lesson ahead. Subsequently, a Classical piece of music of a slower
tempo may be applied after the pupil return from a lunch time of running
around, before they sit down to work once more. This is an example where music can
be integrated within the curriculum, not just within specific lessons, but
during transitioning periods to prepare them for the next stage of their day.

 

Present Influences and
Statistics

A
statement from the Department for Education explores current investment within
the curriculum (DfE, 2016)- ‘We’re investing more than £300 million over the
next four years so that those opportunities are open to all, not just the
privileged few.’ This quote was taken in relation to their contribution to
music education. Encompassing Gardner’s theory within this, Inclusion is well
promoted. Different pupils excel in different areas and by combining subjects
together, more pupils can be included and open to their education by unlocking
what interests them. According to the GOV Music Framework (GOV, 2011)- ‘England
is a world leader in music education. Provision has
existed locally for over 50 years. The number accessing regular weekly
instrumental tuition has grown from 438,772 (8.4%) in 2005 to a projected
figure of over 1.15 million (17.4%) in 2011’. These figures show that the
governments interest in music within school is increasing and more pupils are
interested in accessing these provisions. However, these are individual
instrument tuitions and do not show the government’s support in regard to the
funding of the overall music curriculum. Darren Henley, part of the (DfE, 2011)
states that ‘Schools should provide children with a broad Music
Education, which includes performing, composing, listening, reviewing and
evaluating.’ A particular emphasis to ‘broad’ should be noted, as often the
performing element is only focussed on. As music is not one of the core subjects
within the curriculum, it can be pushed to one side. An article from the
Guardian titled ‘Music belongs at the centre of the curriculum, a study argues’
presents Susan Hallam (2006) from The Institute of Education at The University
of London to support this point. She discusses that music needs to be
incorporated into a pupil’s life from an early age if they are to be able to
continue their love of music through their teenage years. “Music exerts a
powerful impact on our lives and is as important for a well-rounded education
as reading, writing and maths.” Hallam’s use of ‘well-rounded’ suggests
that whilst reading, writing and mathematics are core elements to the
curriculum, they present just the academic subjects and therefore, music is
required to enhance their creative attainment. Michael Pearce from Music
Teacher Magazine (Rhinegold Publishing, 2016) extends this theory to European
countries such as Finland where ‘no child is too young to start their
relationship with music.’ Finnish education has taken strong links from
Bruner’s theory about starting an education in a subject from an early age.
Pearce recognises that certain international schools take the more fluid
approach of a pupils ‘relationship’ with music, rather than just delivering a
specific music curriculum. To consider music as a relationship, it would have
to build over time, hence why Hallam’s argument of starting young and the
potential negatives with starting the relationship when a pupil is older, in
their teenage years, is so apparent. Therefore, to integrate music into the
entire school curriculum would start a natural, progressive relationship which
visually can be represented within Bruner’s spiral.

 

International
Influences

The Australian Music Curriculum (no date), shows similar
values to that of a Finnish education but one that shows a vast contrast to
England’s music curriculum. By comparing both frameworks it has become clear
that England’s curriculum, found on the GOV website offers very little for
teachers to work with (GOV, 2013). The fundamentals are evident such as Timbre,
Rhythm and Dynamics, but are merely mentioned and not explained. Whilst this
potentially enables the teacher to be more creative and interpret this
information individually, it does not provide teachers who have little musical
knowledge a clear structure to plan lessons from. The Australian curriculum
extends the basic elements to explore different ‘viewpoints’ of music e.g.
various cultures, societies and histories. It is mentioned that questioning is
vital and progresses from Foundation up to Year 10. This questioning enables
younger pupils to make critical judgements about their own music and compare
them to the different genres of music from different periods of time that they
have been exposed to. Whilst the English curriculum could touch on these
elements, it’s information is so vague that it seems hard to visualise a
structure or framework to adhere to. Another element of contrast would be
Australia’s mention of ‘Technology’, which presents that not only is music
viewed from the past, but also as to where music has progressed to in the
present, as well as the future. By using instruments from around the world and
weaving technological advancements into this, a more balanced and realistic
music education can be achieved. Finally, the largest contrast can be seen in
the rationale/aim of the music curriculum, introduced at the beginning of both
pieces of documentation. The main focus of the English Curriculum highlights
words such as ‘engage’, ‘explore’ and ‘to build confidence’. Whilst these are
essential results of an effective delivery of music, the document once again,
does not expand on the potential ways to achieve this. This is also only 1
paragraph in length, in comparison to the Australian documentation which is 4
pages. The Australian framework also mentions ‘enriching’ and the ‘expressive’
capabilities of being involved with music, as another medium to communicate
emotions and feelings. It mentions wellbeing which accentuates the development
of the ‘whole’ pupil in a positive psychological sense. Whilst the balance of
wellbeing will not be maintained all the time, it is the effectiveness of how
the pupil ‘adapts’ to the challenge, stated by (Kloep, 2009:337) that
determines whether the wellbeing will be balanced once more. Whilst a more in-depth
music curriculum will bring new challenges, it will be the effectiveness of how
practitioners and pupils adapt to these challenges that will ensure whether the
curriculum is delivered efficiently. It also describes the external benefits of
delivering music in this fashion, such as ‘cognitive, affective, motor, social
and personal competencies of students.’ A particular emphasis on personal and
social developments would prove beneficial for pupils with the Foundation Early
Years. Bentham (2011: 15-16) explores Jean Piaget who refers to this stage in a
child’s development as the preoperational stage; where the child is not just
developing themselves personally, but are also developing themselves in relation
to others, hence why boosting social capabilities within music at a young age
could be detrimental to the overall development of the pupil. Contributing to these
benefits are those that are also applicable for pupils with SEN (Special
Educatory Needs). According to Cigman (2006: 133) ‘Opportunities for special
school pupils to participate in mainstream activities can occur as a matter of
routine.’ This routine can be found within music and can be integrated into the
existing structure of the school day thus promoting the involvement of SEN,
particularly as another medium in order to express themselves and communicate
with others. Henri Lefebvre explores the concept of rhythmicity stating, ‘Everywhere
where there is interaction between a place, a time and an expenditure of energy,
there is rhythm.’ According to Lefebvre and Elden (2004: xv), the rhythmicity
that is already evident in our lives is also evident in music, therefore music
should be easily accommodated into the curriculum.  

 

Legislation
and Policies

By understanding the progression through time and applying
that knowledge into a particular mainstream setting, the delivery of the music
curriculum can be assessed, and compared to other settings such as a private
institution. As mentioned in the abstract, this particular setting is a
mainstream primary school in Kent with a pupil count of just over 160. It
encompasses a ‘Praise and Positive Feedback Policy’ which aims to promote
overall wellbeing through the influence of a Growth Mindset. Its main aim is to
‘Praise the Process over the Product’ (David Pyle, 2017) which relates heavily
to the progression and influences of the music curriculum throughout history
rather than just the sole result of attainment. Reference can be made to GIRFEC’s
(Getting it Right for Every Child, 2017) Wellbeing Wheel, with particular
attention to its Achieving, Nurtured and Included sections that can all help to
maintain a positive learning environment. This policy pairs well with the
schools’ ‘Learning and Teaching’ policy (David Pyle, 2017) where it’s overall
aim to provide a ‘broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum.’ This relates
well to that of the music framework in both England and Australia and once
again to that of developing more than just the raw knowledge within a subject.
The learning environment boasted in the policy is that of ‘caring, challenging
and inspiring,’ developing the growth mindset of the pupil. The school does not
mention music specifically but seems to incorporate specific elements of the
framework, particularly the Australian structure. To compare, a well-regarded
private school (Benenden, 2014) in a similar area has its own Curriculum Policy
which has very similar attributes to that of the mainstream and still does not
mention music specifically within its delivery of the curriculum. Finally,
whilst there are no music orientated primary schools in the relative area, The
Royal Academy of Music (RAM, 2014) has a ‘Learning and Teaching Strategy’.
Whilst this has the obvious focus towards music and elements which do not
relate to that of a Primary Setting such as Employability, the interesting
element within this document is the existing focus of Social ability. There is
still a notable criterion in ‘communicating with others’ as well as responding
to others’ ‘artistic intentions’ and ‘negotiating in groups.’ The skills that
are being harnessed within the curriculum policies within the Primary Schools
and the elements within the Music Frameworks, show the benefit of the numerous
skills that can be obtained just from following a substantial music framework
as well as the need to promote these skills from a young age; where they can be
progressed with difficulty and complexity as the pupil gets older which is an
example of Erikson’s Theory of Development. What this shows is that whilst a
Private education may provide more funding for a broader music curriculum, the
comparisons between that of a Mainstream primary are very similar in that they
are both very vague but have the potential to encompass a more engaging
curriculum. Therefore, the general framework is not supportive enough of the
potential benefits that could be obtained, with particular emphasis on the
frameworks used in Finland and Australia.

 

Political
Influences

Political Agendas also affect the delivery of the music
curriculum, depending on the current manifesto for each party. For example, the
latest Conservative manifesto mentions a ‘Knowledge Rich Curriculum’ with
references to academic attainment but does not mention creative subjects
(Theresa May, 2017). Whereas, Labours 2017 manifesto (Labour, 2017) claims to
offer an extended pupil premium to help fund creative subjects to ‘put
creativity back at the heart of the curriculum.’ It is clear that current
political agendas play a large part in the focus for schools and the moulded
framework the curriculum is designed to follow. Australia’s Liberal Party’s
manifesto (Liberal, 2017) states four areas they would like to enhance, one
being ‘Strengthening the Curriculum.’ Similar to Labours statements, more of an
emphasis on creating a balanced curriculum of physical, academic and creative
subjects is evident internationally and with such a focus on this area within
the education system, it would seem that many sectors are aware of the
imbalance already. Honey and Mumford (2006) identify that different pupils
prefer different learning styles which is why a broad curriculum is essential
for the inclusion of every student, whether they have a preference for academic
subjects or creative ones. This theory of balance within the curriculum is
referred to in Geoff Petty’s studies as ‘Differentiation’ where the
‘differences between learners are accommodated so that all students have the
best possible chance of learning’ (Petty, 2009).