Toward an Understanding of the “Aims” of Music Education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Although the chapters that make up this section of the Handbook are concerned centrally with the curriculum of music education, several of these chapters also look outward to the idea of education, to the larger context of the curriculum, and to the field of curriculum studies. In doing so they bring into the already complex discussions of the curriculum of music education the additional complexities that surround all discussions around the ideas of education, schooling, and curricula, and the contemporary “curriculum field.” My goal in this introduction is to provide a map that can offer, hopefully, a way of navigating such discussions of the curriculum as they bear both on music education and the larger curriculum field. I also will be seeking to extend the range of conventional discussion by introducing two perspectives from outside conventional curriculum theorizing that would seem to have a special applicability to music education. But let me begin close to the beginning. In her masterful chapter in the first Handbook, Wing (1992) observes that the curriculum is the point of mediation between an idea of education and practice and, as such, “provide[s] a central point of departure for considering, first, what schools are intentionally about and, second, how these intents are realized” (p. 196). Wing’s observation is a telling one, highlighting as it does the central link between ideas of intentionality and the curriculum. The curriculum is the inevitable focus of all efforts to “improve” schooling. It is a central issue for those who want to see a different culture and society represented in the school. It is, necessarily, a fundamental issue in the education of teachers as the focus of their induction into the traditions of education and to the alternative possibilities around teaching that inhere in that tradition. But how we think about the curriculum in the light of these purposes has become quite complicated.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe New Handbook Of Research On Music Teaching And Learning
Subtitle of host publicationA Project of the Music Educators National Conference
EditorsRichard Colwell, Carol Richardson
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780197728765
ISBN (Print)9780195138849
StatePublished - 2002


  • Curriculum
  • Possibilities
  • Intentionally
  • Discussions
  • Conventional


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