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Hanne Fossum’s article, “From Relevance Rationality to Multi-stratified Authenticity in Music Teacher Education,” from the Philosophy of Music Education Review’s newest issue is now available on JSTOR & Project MUSE. Below, Hanne elaborates on the notion that prioritizing “relevance” above all else in the field of education undermines artistic engagement in music education.
Since I started working in teacher education, I have noticed that the word relevance is frequently used. It is used in strategy plans for my institution, in student evaluations of our study programs, and in quality assurance plans. Actually, I would say that the notion of relevance permeates all levels of teacher education as a hidden curriculum. It seems to be taken for granted that relevance as a matter of course means quality. It might have to do with teacher education’s roots in the traditional “seminary model,” which stressed “here-and-now” competence or “relevant” competence. And of course, relevance in itself is not a bad thing, few would argue against relevance in education. The problem is the unquestioned validity relevance is given in all areas, the radicalization of relevance into instant relevance, and the combination of relevance thinking with the current market-oriented logic in education, which results in a utilitarian-influenced mode of thinking that is not compatible with my ideals for music education. I argue in my essay that the focus on instant relevance tends to undermine intellectual and artistic engagement with subjects in music teacher education, as well as slow-going artistic processes, which I find necessary for obtaining a quality music teacher education. I therefore offer a counterpoint to such “relevance rationality” with the concept of “multi-stratified authenticity,” which is a synergy of Charles Taylor’s moral philosophy and Frede V. Nielsen’s concept of “music as a multi-stratified universe of meaning.”
Hanne Fossum is Professor at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. Her disciplines are in philosophical subjects, music education, and musicology.
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