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ERIC Number: EJ989002
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Sep
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1545-4517
Practices, Virtue Ethics, and Music Education
Bowman, Wayne
Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, v11 n2 p1-19 Sep 2012
Music education is generally equated with the act of teaching music. In "The Good Life of Teaching: An Ethics of Professional Practice," the remarkable book that orients the essays in this issue of "Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education," Chris Higgins argues, among other things, that the view of teaching as a helping profession--one that is selflessly and exclusively devoted to helping others--neglects things that are crucially important to its viability, vitality, and sustainability: it neglects important goods that are "internal" to the practice of teaching. These include the resources teaching offers for self-cultivation and self-growth, the benefits that accrue to teachers as professional practitioners: the things that keep them growing and thriving, the things that propel them forward rather than leaving them used up, with nothing more to give or little worth giving. The rhetoric of service (teaching is a "helping profession"), Higgins worries, leads too easily to a culture of self-denial or self-deprivation that has a way of emptying teachers out, leaving them either burned-out or, more seriously, "burned in"--his apt way of characterizing teachers who continue to teach despite being burned-out. The primary challenge Higgins sets for himself in his book is to resolve the dualistic, dichotomous relationship between selflessness and selfishness. His strategy involves reconceptualising teaching practice as "self-ful"--the kind of action that benefits students and teacher alike. His aim, as the author understands it, is not so much to eradicate the concept of teaching as helping (or the rhetoric of service in which it is implicated) as it is to qualify them in important ways. He does not advocate an approach to teaching that is self-occupied, self-absorbed, and indifferent to the needs of students. His concern, rather, is that altruism not devolve into asceticism. Commitment to helping others is necessary but not sufficient to thriving educational practice. The point is to acknowledge that both self-interest and other-interest are goods internal to educational practice--goods that are co-involved and mutually dependent. Professional practice in music education consists in an intricately and densely woven fabric of both these threads, and musical ones as well. (Contains 21 notes.)
MayDay Group. Brandon University School of Music, 270 18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba R7A 6A9, Canada. Tel: 204-571-8990; Fax: 204-727-7318; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A