Philosophy of Music Education Review 13.1 (2005) 1-3
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Iris M. Yob
When I was applying to graduate school, I was required to write a goal statement: What was my objective for undertaking graduate studies? I had come out of many years as a classroom teacher—in a primary school on the edge of the Australian Outback, a secondary boarding school, a demonstration high school—and quite some time in teacher education and educational consulting in the South Pacific region. I knew why I wanted to do a doctoral degree: after years of experience in education I had more questions than answers.
I was no longer primarily interested at that point in questions about how—how to construct a lesson plan, how to draw up a syllabus, how to keep students engaged in learning, how to assess student learning, how to organize the school day. It was not as though I had all the answers—far from it. Rather, since I did not have all the answers to these simple issues after these many years, the questions themselves had changed.
Now I was more interested in the why questions—why teach, why require children and young people to spend a decade or more in classrooms and communities so much in the way of resources towards this end, why teach these subjects, why teach them in this way, and, most importantly, why are we not succeeding better at the task of schooling after all these centuries of trying.
If I had been asked at the end of my doctoral studies whether my goal had been met and my questions had been answered, I would have had to admit that it had not been met and they had not been answered. But something more important had happened: my questions were different in that now they were clearer, better focused, more deeply informed. Rather than dispatching the questions, I realized more than ever that they are indispensable for making [End Page 1] educational talk more precise, parsing a school of thought and a line of argument, and separating the weak elements from the strong in the foundations of our thinking about schooling. Admittedly, they could also be annoying, demanding, and persistent, but that is not a bad price to pay for their power to change how we think.
Questions are the drivers of the articles in this (and all issues) of PMER for we can detect their implicit role in prompting the writers to be suspicious of terms that we have used so easily, driving them to look beneath the usual babble, and formulate ideas that have greater clarity and so greater utility. (Incidentally, these articles and the responses to them were presented at the June 2003 Philosophy of Music Education International Symposium in Chicago, Illinois.) Frede Nielsen has questions about the differences between the various constructs that have arisen in the German Didaktik movement—didactics and didactology, with their parallels in English, pedagogy and pedagogics and educology and education—and having asked the questions is able to draw fine distinctions between the items in each pair and argue that each influences the other but that both should have a place in our talking about education and in our research agendas and teacher education practices. Estelle Jorgensen asks about the relationship between the two familiar terms, theory and practice, and describes and evaluates some of the variety in how this relationship is perceived to the end of making both theorizing and practicing richer and more productive enterprises. Elvira Panaoitidi questions the use of the expression, paradigm shift, and shows whether and to what extent it can be accurately applied to recent developments in the philosophy of music education and the claims made about them and in so doing encourages the profession to develop a clearer basis for formulating new ideas in the profession and negotiating between different approaches. Alexandra Kerz-Welzel wonders about the magic in the music of every day life and implies how this notion might be put to work in the music education classroom. In each case, the questions prompt the analysis of...