Creativity and Wellbeing in Music Education — philosophy, policy and practice in the context of contemporary Scottish primary education

Kim, Hanah (2020) Creativity and Wellbeing in Music Education — philosophy, policy and practice in the context of contemporary Scottish primary education. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This is an interdisciplinary study encompassing elements of music, education, and aspects of philosophy and psychology. The principal aim of this research is to investigate ways of fostering musical creativity and wellbeing in primary schools, as well as providing curriculum guidelines and drawing out practical implications for Music Education in the present era.

Contemporary society represents a new wave of development in human affairs. Resting upon rapid technological innovation, it has created greater opportunities for revealing and experiencing creativity in forms that can then underpin enhanced states of human welfare. At the same time, these far-reaching changes have in many places become threats to human wellbeing, resulting from the dislocating social and emotional impact of new styles of living. As a consequence, ‘creativity’ and ‘wellbeing’ have arisen as important themes in the current era, chiefly as assets and attitudes required for human beings: to live, to respond, to cope, to prosper, and to succeed. In this turbulent context, education is tasked with nurturing both ‘creativity’ and ‘wellbeing’. These concepts are especially meaningful to be investigated through Music Education at the present time, since human beings have had an enduring relationship with sound and music in almost all cultures on record, even and especially those moving through great change.

From its basis in musical theory and Music Education, this research also develops a distinctive theoretical foundation in the concepts of ‘Romantic Aesthetics’ and ‘Romantic Irony’––which is a literary, aesthetic, and stylistic term that involves an advanced psychological concept of ‘self’ (e.g. Garber, 2014; Allen, 2007) very apposite to the current age. Specifically, for the present research, I wanted to apply these concepts and theories to the practices of contemporary Music Education, to help devise a useful curriculum for music classes in primary schools consistent with my wider interests in children’s creativity, and children’s wellbeing and resilience, when their lives are often under great pressure. The teaching methods and activities are researched, devised, implemented and evaluated encompassing what is recognised today as the four major components of Music Education: listening to music, singing, playing instruments, and composing.

The hypothesis within this research is that applying insights and approaches derived from ‘Romantic Irony’ to Music Education in modern primary schools can also be empowering in fostering pupils’ creativity and wellbeing. Across a broad cross-section of literature in different research areas––not only education but also philosophy and aesthetics, psychology, sociology––it is possible to set the premise that creativity and Romantic Irony are related in various vital aspects. Moreover, it is also possible, this thesis shows, to fashion and actualise a practice of Music Education in regular primary classrooms responsive not only to the rising emphasis on the concept of creativity but also to the pursuit of emotional resilience as a vital and life-supporting dimension of that creativity. Thus, this thesis will attempt to show that applying Romantic Aesthetics and Romantic Irony to Music Education for the development of pupil creativity and wellbeing may a constructive innovation within the compass of all teachers committed to the place of music in the primary curriculum.

With due reference to the educational environment and surroundings of Scotland, where this project was deliberately targeted and unfolded, the research herein consists of two types of interventions: a conceptual and an empirical strand. The first part of the research is allocated to investigating and critically assessing theories of creativity, emotion, Romantic Aesthetics, Romantic Irony, Health and Wellbeing, and music therapy––alongside the educational practices in that these concepts may be meaningfully applied or manifest. For the empirical part of the research, I adopted a ‘Vignette’ and ‘thematic approach’ partially indebted to both practioner enquiry and Action Research, to craft ways of enhancing creativity and wellbeing through Music Education in a number of classrooms where I had been previously welcome and active as a serving teacher. The classroom interventions were divided into 3 Vignettes to stimulate pupils’ innate musical creativity and to form relationships, to deliever basic theoretical knowledge, and then to provide opportunities to apply skills in relation to certain topics that appear in daily lives. Thereafter, important academic conversations with experts were conducted in order to examine deeper views of the researcher’s philosophy and approaches and to search for the directions that Music Education ought to follow in contemporary society.

The thesis concludes with the conviction that Music Education preserves a rich potential for realising and expressing the core values of progressive education today: promoting for the children in our schools the experiences of creativity, health, resilience and wellbeing which matter so much for surviving and attaining the good life in our protean 21st century society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: creativity, wellbeing, music education, Scottish primary education, Romantic aesthetics, Romantic irony.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Davis, Professor Robert A. and Odena, Dr. Oscar
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Hanah Kim
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81729
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2020 08:19
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2022 08:44
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81729

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