What do we mean by sustainability in music education? (Re)making meaningful practices.

Cooke, Carolyn (2022). What do we mean by sustainability in music education? (Re)making meaningful practices. In: European Association for Music in Schools Conference, 18-21 May 2022, Belgrade / Online..

URL: https://eas-music.org/


The urgency of the sustainability agenda is permeating all aspects of educational debate, where key questions about what we do, how we do it, and how that contributes to the planet’s wellbeing are rightly under the spotlight. However, there is little discussion about what and how music education contributes to this urgent debate. As Kleiman notes, “music is not immediately a candidate for the integration of sustainability into its curriculum” (Kleiman 2010: 167), where explorations may be limited to a number of sustainability-related topics and questions (e.g. questioning the material footprint of instruments, or creating compositions to promote awareness of ecological issues). However, as Kagan and Kirchberg (2016) argue, “music as a complex social and aesthetic system” has a powerful role to play in developing openness to “ambiguities, ambivalences, contradictions and creative chaotic dimensions of reality” (ibid. 149).
This paper, drawing on examples from my recently completed PhD thesis, focuses on the question ‘How can we make sustainable and meaningful relationships with each other, materials, environments and music’? Using a posthumanist lens (Haraway 2016, Murris 2016, Barad 2007), the paper highlights specific characteristics of making which emerged from my research into improvising with student teachers. These characteristics include attentionality as well as intentionality, material discursivity, response-ability, and status fluidity, which can frame sustainable ways-of-being with music education.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. In Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning.
Haraway, D. . (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.
Kagan, S., & Kirchberg, V. (2016). Music and sustainability: organizational cultures towards creative resilience – a review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 135, 1487–1502.
Kleiman, P. (2010). Staging Sustainability: Making Sense of Sustainability in HE Dance, Drama and Music. Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practices across Higher Education, (2010), 155–171.
Murris, K. (2016). The Posthuman Child: Educational transformation through philosophy with picturebooks. Oxon: Routledge.

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