Music education in Northern Ireland 1920-2017: from there to here to where?

Scharf, Jenny (2019) Music education in Northern Ireland 1920-2017: from there to here to where? PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis presents an investigation on music education in Northern Ireland (NI) from 1920 to 2017. Its main aims were to uncover the role of music in schools since NI’s creation in 1921 and the potential of the current school music curriculum (DENI/CCEA, 2007) to promote mutual understanding in NI’s post-conflict society. The research approach combined historical documentary enquiry and qualitative empirical research. Overall, the thesis is placed within a theoretical framework drawing on MacDonald’s (2013) model for music and wellbeing that addresses music as an artistic phenomenon and a contributory factor in personal and social development. The historical documentary enquiry drew on 40 school inspectors’ primary documents, obtained in the Belfast Public Record Office, to present an overview of music in NI schools from 1920 to 1979, and secondary documents to consider the provenance and development of the current curriculum, including own professional papers gathered from 1981. The qualitative empirical research consisted of semi-structured interviews with 22 music teachers in 11 grammar and 11 secondary schools located across all six NI counties, and a focus group with 10 newly-qualified teachers. While focusing, primarily, on aspects of the 2007 music curriculum, interviews addressed wider contextual aspects by discussing the impact of new initiatives on music education. These included the Entitlement Framework of qualifications (DENI, 2010), the promotion of STEM subjects (DENI, 2011), and Shared Education across the religious divide (DENI, 2015). Thematic analysis of transcripts is discussed in the findings under four broad themes, with twelve related sub-themes. The themes are (i) The Significance of Music in NI, (ii) The Music Curriculum, (iii) Moving Forward, and (iv) Newly Qualified Teachers’ Thinking. Data analysis appeared to reflect NI’s ‘us’ and ‘them’ dilemma, an in-group/out-group bias that was implicit in responses from some practising and newly-qualified teachers. Positive and negative outcomes of the research are contrasted with previous studies. Teachers’ belief that they were promoting mutual respect and understanding was limited by educational segregation and a desire to avoid controversial issues within the classroom. The new initiatives, outlined above, appeared to impact, negatively, on music curriculum and examinations. Although two cross-community music ensembles were documented, illustrating the potential of such activities, music appeared to still play a particular role in representing NI’s two indigenous cultures, Protestant/‘orange’ and Catholic/‘green’. The concluding chapter considers the interview findings in light of the historical documentary enquiry. It discusses the thesis’ contribution to knowledge, its implications, and some suggestions for further research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Music Education, Northern Ireland, history, 2007 music curriculum.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
L Education > LF Individual institutions (Europe)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Odena, Dr. Oscar
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Mrs Jenny Scharf
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-79009
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2020 10:54
Last Modified: 27 May 2021 08:33
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.79009

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