Promoting an inclusive music classroom
Providing for the needs of large groups of children can present significant challenges for teachers, particularly if their experience hitherto has been primarily teaching individuals or small groups. Teachers’ fears about ‘classroom management’ and the assumption that controlling children is separate in some way from teaching them can lead them to seek out techniques or tricks for guaranteeing good behaviour. However, as Chris Philpott says, this ‘is a fallacy, for it is through effective learning and teaching in music that pupils can be inspired to behave well’ (Philpott in Philpott and Spruce 2007: 102). At the very heart of the Wider Opportunities Programme (whole class instrumental and vocal teaching – WCIVT) is a fundamental belief that a high quality musical education should be made available to all. Creating an inclusive musical experience that not only develops pupils’ musicality but also inspires them is key to ensuring that children engage and remain engaged with their music making and music learning. A commitment to achieving an inclusive environment requires of teachers one thing above all others: that they develop and maintain a rich and sophisticated relationship with, and knowledge of, their pupils. This knowledge might include their levels of achievement and special educational or behavioural needs, including being gifted and talented. Above all, however, it will require knowledge of pupils as musicians, including not only their instrumental and vocal skills but also the musical cultures they are part of and the musical activities that they are involved in both in and out of school. It is only through developing and then using this knowledge that teachers can plan lessons that will fully engage all pupils in rich and personally meaningful musical learning. Successful inclusion occurs when teachers use knowledge of their pupils to:
It is at the point where these three aspects meet that the most effective inclusion takes place (see Figure 4.1).