Teaching secondary music
Teaching secondary music

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Teaching secondary music

1.1 What is learning?

One commonly cited definition of learning is that it has taken place when a young person is changed or altered in some way. Swanwick suggests that this definition brings to mind the fate of August Gloop from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, ‘when he is shot up a pipe into the mincing, mixing, slicing machine’ (Swanwick, 2008, p. 10).

But don’t, dear children, be alarmed;

August Gloop will not be harmed,

Although, of course, we must admit

He will be altered quite a bit.

(Roald Dahl, 2005)

Philpott writes of such changes as being when young people’s ‘behaviour, attitudes or values’ are altered ‘through the development of knowledge and understanding and their consequent understanding of the world enriched’ (Philpott, 2008).

This suggests a conception of learning and hence an aim of teaching as being about more than the mere transmission and acquiring of factual musical knowledge or even instrumental or vocal skills.

Reflection point

Think back to your own experiences as a young learner. Identify one example of teaching (from any subject), which you think resulted in you being ‘altered’ as a person.

  • What did the teacher do in terms of presentation (e.g. explanations, resources, questioning) that resulted in this learning?
  • Why did this teaching have such an impact and remain in your memory?

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