Developing personal epistemology as a music teacher in middle years education

Year: 2016

Author: Barton, Georgina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The journey to becoming a music teacher involves a range of experiences including those prior to, and during, university study. For many pre-service music teachers the prospect of teaching in the ‘real world’ can be daunting, especially if they have had limited contact with classrooms. Therefore, pre-service music teachers need to be prepared in ways that develop appropriate skills and knowledge for classroom practice. This presentation reports on findings from a research study into music teachers’ professional preparation. It argues that levels of confidence are essential for pre-service music teachers as they help develop their capacities to frame and enact a personal philosophy or epistemology to the teaching and learning of music that secure their intended education purposes. In a middle years music education course, both under and post-graduate students learn about teaching music to young adolescents in school settings. In this course they were introduced to relevant theories and pedagogical practices to the teaching and learning of music in contemporary schooling context. An integral element of this course was for students to develop their own personal philosophy and approach to music education. To evaluate the efficacy of these experiences, the students were asked to participate in pre-course and post-course surveys and write personal philosophies that elicited data about their capacities and confidence to teach middle years music. Findings showed that prior experiences in learning music, or teaching music, in the studio context greatly impacted on these pre-service teachers' preparation. It was also revealed that they initially had lower perceived confidence in their capacity to plan for teaching and learning but this was improved over time and throughout the course. The importance of the theory to practice nexus was also highlighted as a critical component of improving their competencies as a beginning music teacher.