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Learning and unlearning: New challenges for teaching in conservatories

Carey, Gemma, Draper, Paul, Lebler, Don, & McWilliam, Erica (2006) Learning and unlearning: New challenges for teaching in conservatories. Australian Journal of Music Education, pp. 25-31.

Abstract

This paper takes up the chaltenge of Erica McWilliam's recent call for educators in general to focus on the importance of 'unlearning' as well as learning and thence applying this challenge to teaching in the Conservatoire. It does so by indicating what the value and limits are of traditiooal pedagogy in the Conservatoire. For young people who will increasingly experience a 'portfolio career' they will need to 'unlearn' and 'forget' certain practices processes and at the same time learn and embrace others. Getting the mix of learning and unlearning right will be more important for new generations of learners than merely sticking to time-honoured habits that mark a former stable social world. The implication is not that the Conservatoire should throw out long-term teaching techniques, but rather that it will need to be more open to innovative pedagogical possibilities ifit is to work against the current trend of a shrinking clientele and audience for its expertise. The presentation provides a rationale for a new conceptual architecture in teaching (mixing leaming and unlearning) before moving to consider how the Conservatoire might experiment cautiously with this imperative. Examples are given of such experiments already happening within a Conservatoire in Australia.

Because the appeal of excellent musicianship is universal, and the image of the music teacher is so culturally familiar, it is tempting to assume that the traditional 'master-apprentice' pedagogy of the Conservatoire is unchallenged and inviolate as the legitimate method for music teaching. This paper challenges 'master-apprentice' pedagogy by opening up issues around the value and limitations of traditional pedagogy in the Conservatoire for a generation ofyoling people who experience the world very differently from their 'baby boomer' teachers. In doing so, it takes up the cha11enge of Erica McWilliam's recent call for educators in general to focus on the importance of 'unlearning' as well as learning (McWiUiam, 2005a), and applies this challenge to teaching in the Conservatoire. The argument is that unstable social futures will require learners of all persuasions to 'unlearn' certain practices and processes at the same time that they learn and embrace others (Bauman, 2004). Getting the mix of learning and unlearning right will be more important for new generations of learners than merely sticking to time-honoured habits that mark a former stable social world. The implication is not that the Conservatoire should abandon long-term teaching techniques, but rather that it will need to be more open to innovative pedagogical possibilities if it is to work against the current trend of a shrinking youthful clientele and audience for its expertise and an expanded creative workforce from which it is estranged.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 22021
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Arts Education, Pedagogy, Music Education
ISSN: 0255-7614
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Deposited On: 17 Jun 2009 23:03
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:24

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