"Music Ed" vs. Pedagogy
by Jody Nagel
Performance -- Conducting -- Composition -- Theory -- Musicology -- Listening
These are the broad areas of study for musicians!
Performers learn to perform and, if they're good, at some point learn performance pedagogy.
Conductors learn to conduct and, if they're good, at some point learn to give conducting instruction.
Composers learn to compose and, if they're good, at some point learn to teach composition.
Theorists learn to theorize and, if they're good, at some point learn theory pedagogy.
Musicologists learn about history and, if they're good, at some point learn to teach history.
Listeners learn to listen and, if they listen well, at some point learn the pedagogy of aural skills.
All these fields, at good schools, offer the pedagogy of the field within that field. All truly talented people develop a desire to share their talent with others and to see their field pass on to the next generation, and these people are the TEACHERS. Without developed talent, one CANNOT TEACH.
What is this relatively new field "music education" ? What does it uniquely do? What does it do that is OTHER THAN what these other fields do? (Do not say it is the "psychology of music." If you wish to study that, then go to the psychology department; they're much much more adept at the field.)
It basically boils down to this. The field "education" has TOTAL CONTROL over what becomes of American K-12 schools. They are the people who make up the National Education Association (N.E.A.), and they decide policy about what the future of our children's learning will be like.
The field "education" has stripped the experts out of all fields, including those individuals with pedagogical training (but lacking an "ed" degree). "Educators" keep experts from having a say in what happens in K-12 schools. The field "education," you see, is about POWER, not education.
The field music education is utterly redundant with what the field of music ALREADY DOES. This field, "music education," is NOT NECESSARY. It has no moral right to exclude experts in a field from having a say on what the K-12 school experience should be like. The field "education" should be eliminated. Would-be teachers should be taught by every other type of expert, but not by "educators."
What philosophy fuels the ability for the field "education" even to exist? Democracy, of course. American "educators" believe that ALL people should have the right to learn a little bit about everything. All people, all brain types, all learning styles, all languages, all potentialities, all everybody. And this is indeed what happens, everybody learns a little bit about many things. Expertise, and the high standards of each field, are killed, one field at a time. And if anyone should complain about the demise of standards, they are accused of being ELITIST. (I always thought elite levels of ability were desirable.) The field "education" is ruining education.
Not all people wish for a classical education, or wish to be farmers, or wish to be musicians, or wish to be biologists. Let people flock to the fields and skill developments that they wish. Let them study with experts, like in the days of apprenticeships. Don't tell me about the occasional student that has late blooming talent as a reason not to pigeon-hole students at a young age. This desire to give everybody a chance for as long as possible merely succeeds in giving NOBODY a chance to become experts. The rare late-blooming truly talented person will find a way to enter the field of their talent, IF the field's expertise is allowed TO EXIST.
Please do not mistake a loathing for the CONCEPT of the field of "music education," with a dislike of the persons within the field of "music education." I consider their embracing of their "field" to be misguided, as I am sure they consider my points-of-view to be. If I admire some music-ed professors, it is not because of their "music-ed" ability, but because of their "music" ability. If they fail to see the point that I am trying to make . . . well, nobody is perfect.
P.S. I homeschool my children to keep them from having to endure "education"-trained teachers. For every minute a person spends in college learning within the field "education," they could have spent learning in a class with an expert within the field itself, and, therefore, become in the long run a better teacher.
January 22, 2004