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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Critical voice and social justice in the urban music classroom
by Barnett, Amylia Corderah, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2010, 270; 3424931
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine how 10 urban students at the High School for Diversity and Social Action (HSDSA) in Washington, D.C. grapple with conceptualizations of social justice and demonstrate critical voice in then music classroom. Students' critical voice was acknowledged by their ability to question, rethink, reconsider, and reconstruct ideas and actions based on their own and their peers' perspectives. One goal of the study was to paint a picture of an urban music classroom in order to see how this particular group of students wrestled with ideas like equality, justice, opportunity, and self-identity—especially as these abstractions played out in "real-time." Another aim was to afford opportunities for my students to interrogate common assumptions and beliefs, and to analyze how together our musical worlds and lived lives are interwoven within larger social issues.

Findings demonstrated that my students did not need to be "taught" critical voice, but that criticality was always present in some form, though their voices were rarely free of normative struggles or contradictions. And while classroom interviews were a useful tool for coming to "know" the participating students, the path toward "knowing" was not without its obstacles. Fractures in identity and community appeared as the students (the study participants) and I (the teacher-researcher) worked within and across musical, cultural, racial, and gendered differences. The students were constantly navigating borders, both real and perceived, in their attempts to reveal themselves. Often times, because of the power constructed around my positionality as a White, middle-class female, my students were not free to express their ideas in the ways that I desired or idealized, calling into conflict my self-identity as a social justice educator and music teacher. Many unintended consequences arose that led to profound questions about the very purpose and place of compulsory social justice education in public schooling, specifically as this concern relates to the goal- or outcome-oriented path that most social justice curricula often take.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Allsup, Randall Everett
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music education
Keywords: Music classroom, Social justice, Urban education
Publication Number: 3424931
ISBN: 978-1-124-25409-8
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