IT TAKES A VILLAGE

 

Michael Jothen

Towson University

mjothen@towson.edu

 

"It Takes a Village", the '90's book by Hillary Rodham-Clinton, addresses an issue inherent in human existence, we are shaped by a village. As music educators, individually and collectively, past villages have shaped our existence. The extent this has been successful, is due in part to higher education faculty desiring to facilitate melding the past into the appropriate present and anticipated future. A village of higher education faculty, valuing of providing conditions necessary to facilitate this melding process, a village in agreement, has historically provided future music educators with a foundation for success.

Presently, approximately one-third of all educators leave the profession by the third year and about half by year five. Why are good, skilled, creative people leaving the teaching profession? One consideration is, in relationship to the preparation of future music educators, the historically successful village concept of 'all-for-one, one-for-all' has been weakened or even dissolved. For example, increasingly, faculty in higher education, have distanced and disconnected themselves from the present reality of students future professional life as practicing educators. Departmental policies, hiring practices, professional accrediting and review guidelines, tenure and promotion issues, etc. all have contributed towards the loss of a village's collective responsibility for the preparation of future music educators. The village's ability to engage and send a unified message to its most vulnerable members has diminished. Music education, politically powerless, its faculty outnumbered, its value suspect and questioned, has increasingly been left to accomplish teacher preparation in isolation, a village in disagreement.

How many non-music education faculty matriculated from public school music programs? Have visited and/or engaged on a sustained basis with students ages 4 - 18 in the past month, year, etc? How can the content of a discipline be connected with music education? How can departmental policies and expectations reflect professional development in terms of the discipline of music education? These are the kind of issues and questions needing to be raised. The answers can help better prepare future music educators for the present. We need to address village renewal.