Sunday, November 26, 2006

Professional Development in Music Education

At the Massachusetts Music Educator’s 2003 All-State Conference, Dr. Richard Colwell, among the most distinguished music education scholars of our time and editor of both Handbooks on Research on Music Teaching and Learning (1992, 2000) spoke about the perceived problem of professional development in music education. His claims are that professional development “as it is defined by the Massachusetts Department of Education does not 1-recognize the complexity of the problem, 2-it does not recognize the important issues facing teachers in all disciplines and 3-it does not specify minimum experiences that lead toward professional improvement….” In defining the problem he made three points:

The first is that the definition of professional development is too broad giving it responsibility for too many critical issues. My second point is that subject matter competence must be a primary consideration, and the third point is that a different administrative structure is needed to monitor and approve all professional development.

These points are supported in the research of Renji (1996a, 1996b) and Sparks, (1994) among others He concluded his remarks by suggesting solutions to the second and third problem:

I’m arguing that mandatory professional development in one’s subject matter, like secondary band, be approved by an organization of subject matter specialists in the field like MICCA or a group in this audience….School districts are very different throughout the state. The performance standards appropriate for each should be established by MICCA {or other Music Agency} and local school personnel in conjunction with and outside music consultant. (Colwell, 2003)

As a member of the audience listening to Dr. Colwell’s remarks, I wondered what the consensus among those that were gathered was. Were they in agreement? Are there glaring problems with regard to music education professional development throughout the state?

No comments: