The transformative politics of music education: Towards policy informed futures
An abstract of my keynote lecture in the conference: Antipluralism and Populism. Polarizing interpretations of society as a challenge for music education; hosted by the University of Siegen on November 7, 2020.
The complexity of problems in contemporary societies demands new and radical future scenarios in all levels of scholarship. Consequently, researchers in all disciplines are urged to create new ways to prove the impact and strengthen the future forming potential of their research. In the field of music education, we are witnessing a turn from specialized expert culture to expanding professionalism that not only necessitates new insights to the role of music teachers as socially responsible actors but also, and most importantly, an institutional change. A change from advocating our own field to think and act in a socially responsible way requires a new kind of professional learning and collaboration. This turn, however, is far from straightforward or uncomplicated to put in action. In this speech, I will analyze and discuss the policy process cycle carried out as part of a strategic, government-funded national research project ArtsEqual (2015–2021), coordinated by the University of the Arts Helsinki. I will point out some of the unexpected challenges of the process and critically examine both the potentials and pitfalls in connecting qualitative research to evidence-based policy-making in music education.
In identifying and building a new field of transformative politics in music education between different policy, institutional, and academic social systems, we might begin with considering questions such as: How should researchers situate themselves in the policy processes? What can we learn from the emerging activist approaches that promote radical repositioning of music education in society? How to maintain researchers’ integrity and does it matter what kind of research we do when striving for more equal and societally impactful music education?
With this brief reflection upon the navigation between researcher integrity, activism, advocacy, and policy as a practice I hope to call for a discussion about the future of politically relevant and active music education research. In these politically uncertain and turbulent times, the ability to act with others but simultaneously maintaining our researcher integrity and activist disposition is a much needed challenge to be further developed and taken up in our field.