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7 Pages

Afterword—Taking Courage

Implementing Activist Music Education
ByJuliet Hess

Implementing activist music education requires courage. Teachers choosing activist music pedagogy face significant challenges as they facilitate and navigate the different effects of this pedagogy. External forces drastically shape teachers’ actions. This afterword addresses these external forces, as well as societal constraints placed on teachers not previously taken up in the book. The overwhelming emphasis on standardized testing, scores, and ranking deeply influences what becomes possible in schools. Exploring ways to address this pressure remains important to implementing a pedagogy that prioritizes critical thinking. Stark societal divides may also emerge in the classroom and the school when students grapple with the issues raised through this pedagogy. Preparing to navigate discord thus becomes an important aspect of implementation. Teachers may also face resistance from their communities for implementing what some may refer to as a “leftist, liberal agenda.” This afterword offers suggestions for responses to such criticisms. Taking courage and initiating (or continuing) activist music education ultimately helps youth build community and connect to others, express their stories and their ideas, notice injustice, and critique the world around them. Considering possible difficulties teachers may face may allow us to better address these issues as they emerge.