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Possibilities in Practice

Social Justice Teaching in the Disciplines

Edited By Summer Melody Pennell, Ashley S. Boyd, Hillary Parkhouse and Alison LaGarry

This edited collection illustrates different possibilities for social justice practice in various grade levels, disciplines, and interdisciplinary spaces in P–12 education. Chapters in this unique volume demonstrate teaching with a critical lens, helping students develop critical dispositions, encouraging civic action with students, and teaching about topics inclusive of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Based on empirical research, each contribution is rooted in a critical theoretical framework and characterizes findings from sustained study of pedagogic practice, spanning subject matter from social studies, English Language Arts, music, mathematics, and science. Through this work, both pre- and in-service teachers as well as teacher educators will be inspired to practice social justice in their own classrooms.

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Chapter Seven: One Social Justice Music Educator: Working Within and Beyond Disciplinary Expectations Kindergarten–5th Grade (Alison Lagarry)


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One Social Justice Music Educator

Working Within and Beyond Disciplinary Expectations

Kindergarten–5th Grade


Music education is a field that is often seen as open and inclusive. If you ask music educators about this openness, many will tell you that there is a place for everyone in the music classroom; students who do not seem to fit in other school spaces find belonging there. Further, they will state that multicultural repertoire selections allow for engagement with diverse cultures and languages, adding to the narrative that music education inherently addresses concerns of cultural responsiveness. This supposition, that music education is already doing enough, may serve to prevent music educators from engaging in the critical questioning that is vital to social justice education (SJE) (Jorgensen, 2002). Music, as a discipline, has explicit expectations for which actions, attitudes, and experiences are viable for members of the discipline (Gustafson, 2009). The same can be said for the field of education. Many of these expectations, by nature, are exclusionary and highlight what Popkewitz (2009) described as “double gestures”—whereby delineating a good and acceptable member of a discipline automatically evokes the unacceptable member. For example, in music classes, much time is spent asking students to maintain a specific type of unmoving posture that corresponds with White European musical practice. Students whose musical traditions involve physical movement or improvised response may be penalized for engaging in practices...

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