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On "Methodolatry" and Music Teaching as Critical and Reflective Praxis Thomas Regelski State University of New York, Fredonia Introduction: Professions and Professionalism Most teachers, including those in music, like to think of themselves as professionals. However, the "professionalization" of teachers traced by sociology generally refers to only the transition early in the twentieth century from two years ofteacher preparation in normal schools to four years in newly created professional schools, departments, orprogramsofeducationinuniversities . Traditional sociological theory still considers teaching to be at best a "semiprofession."1 In the "ideal" descriptionofsociologist Max Weber, professionals shared these traits: They were self-employed providers of services, diey entered dieir profession because diey were 'called' to it out of some deep personal commitment, and dieir qualifications were based upon tiieir possessionof'expert' andesotericknowledge . In addition, dieir knowledge base could be acquired only by a select few who underwent long and rigorous study. Their services dealt widi serious, often life or deadi matters, and dieywere remunerated by fees from clients. Communication between professionals and dieir clients was legally privileged so uiat courts oflaw could not require its disclosure . Most important, entrance to mese professions was controlled by professional peers, who set requirements for entry, training, and certification. Boards ofpeers also developed reviewprocesses to maintain standards and competence. 2 A further criterion of a true profession is that praxis3 relies upon underlying theory4 and the fundofwidelyacceptedpractice-basedknowledge generated by theory that is required to deal with the extensive variety ofpredictably unique problems and needs presented by those served. Teaching clearly deviates substantially from these conditions. The theory serving as the basis of any profession is not amatterofsimple speculation; it is rooted in research and theoretical principles-fundamentals that importantly include commonly recognized and accepted action ideals of the profession's ethical and other guiding philosophicalconsiderations. Uponsuchtheoretical bases, professional praxis generates ever-new praxial knowledge. Because ofthe particulars of the situatedness governing both the practitioner andthose served, praxis-based knowledge always takes idiosyncratic form for a particularpractitioner -but, importantly, within the general theoretical , ethical, and philosophical stance ofthe profession . As a result, there are no "standard results " for any practitioner or for the overall profession . Furthermore, there are no standard methods ;just "standards ofcare" rooted in the profession 's theoretical and ethical premises. Music educationhas evolvedno such shared action ideals concerning ends and so the issue of theory-guided practice or of a professional ethic remainsambiguous, evencontroversial.1 Without professionally based consensus on ends, no stable criteria exist for selecting means and evaluating results and, thus, no ethic of accountability can apply. As aconsequence, results areconsiderably unpredictable-and not infrequently negative-and the appropriateness and usefulness ofmuch what is taught and learned is regularly disputed. This is not at all to say or to argue that music education has historically brought about mainly negative results, or that individual music©Philosophy ofMusic Education Review 10, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 102-123. Thomas Regelski 103 teachers are never successful. It wouldbe wrongheaded not to acknowledge the existence ofmuch well-intentioned, hardworkby individual teachers who are both musically competent and 'naturals' in working with students. This paper addresses instead mainly structural weaknesses in the field of music education that result in it as a field falling far short of at least the general kinds of professionalism found in helping professions. The comparisons made here to helping professions are made only in a very general way. However , overall, the field ofmusic education fails to compare well with the most obvious traits of familiar professions. As shall be argued, judgments concerning successful practice in music education should depend in large part on criteria provided by theoretically substantiated auricular goals and ideals and by implied and explicit process criteria of both an ethical and practical nature.6 Lacking such criteria, the question or degree of teaching success remains vague. As a result music education fails to promote predictable and pragmatic "right results" that students, parents, and the public at large can easily recognize as the professional "value-added" to general education and society by music education and this creates the increasing need foradvocacyofschool music. Philosophy, Theory, and Professional Praxis Whetherornot teachingcan everfullymeet the sociological conditions ofbeing a true profession , it would profit from and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-3412
Print ISSN
1063-5734
Pages
pp. 102-123
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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