Growing Inclusive Music Education Preservice Teachers Through Self-cultivation


Jason B. Gossett, Oregon State University

Daniel J. Shevock, The Pennsylvania State University


Self-cultivation in music teacher education can help plant the seed of inclusion. Self-cultivation can foster Pre-Service Teacher’s (PST) awareness of the many facets that comprise their journey toward the good life (Higgins, 2011). It is an ongoing process by which people can “develop the ability to learn about themselves and the process of teaching, and adopt a disposition of ongoing professional development” (Campbell, Thompson, & Barrett, 2012, p. 79). An integral component of self-cultivation is critical reflection on aims, means and assumptions in music education. This requires “attitudes that value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and of others” (Rodgers, 2002, p. 845). PSTs can “reconcile self- regard and concern for others” (Higgins, 2011 p.3) through self-cultivation. This “concern for others” opens ways for PSTs to see future students as individuals with contextually created life-spaces, and can become inclusive of students, musics, and ideas regarding music education.


Inclusion is understood in varying ways in education; for instance, the inclusion of students with disabilities (VanWeelden & Whipple, 2014), or of diverse races (Kindall-Smith, 2013). These understandings focus on difference and may be too narrow to foster a stronger, richer community. Ladson-Billings (2011) described diversity both as having representation from a variety of races and ethnicities, and having a wide range of schooling experiences. Expanding her definition, we understand inclusion as a diversity of people, musics, methods, and ideas.

Humanistic education is a practice with self-cultivation at its core (Chatelier 2013). Chatelier categorized humanistic self-cultivation into four historical periods - cultural-classical, naturalistic-romantic, existential-humanistic, and critical-radical. Each period has distinct pedagogical implications. Universities have dual imperatives to serve 1) as self-cultivating, and 2) as being a public good. These are confluent aims. Giroux (2009) suggests the university is “a crucial site where students gain a public voice and come to grips with their own power as individual and social agents” (p. 432). However, university education, if it does not contain a self-cultivating element, can be reduced to “its narrow instrumental justification” (p. 450), which, for PST’s, means learning to teach music disconnected from social context, reaffirming dominant musical cultures without reflecting on the public good.


The current presentation is based on a philosophical inquiry (into self-cultivation and valuing leading to inclusion) by the presenters. The guiding question was: How can an education through self-cultivation inform PST’s ideas of inclusion? We suggest that to build more inclusive classes we must nurture more inclusive people (teachers). Music teacher educators plant the seed of inclusion by providing opportunities for PST’s self-cultivation. Through self-cultivation, beliefs are formed and acted upon becoming values, which lead to more inclusion (of people, methods, musics, and ideas). We will present five hypothetical-cases around music teacher education 1) without a self-cultivating element, and 2) constructed using Chatelier’s (2013) four humanistic conceptions of self-cultivation; and facilitate a conversation of these five ways of approaching teacher education to (re)consider our profession’s aims, means, and, through those, our underlying assumptions of what it means for PST’s to be music educated today.




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Giroux, H. (2002). Neoliberalism, corporate culture, and the promise of higher education: The university as a democratic public sphere. Higher Educational Review, 72(4), 425-463.

Higgins, C. (2011). The good life of teaching: An ethics of professional practice (1st ed.): John Wiley and Sons.

Ladson-Billings, G. J. (2011). Asking the right questions: A research agenda for studying diversity in teacher education. In Ball, A. F. & Tyson, C. A. (Eds.), Studying Diversity in Teacher Education, (pp. 383-396). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Kindall-Smith, M. (2013). What a difference in 3 years! Risking social justice content in required undergraduate music education curricula. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 22(2), 34-50.

Rodgers, C. (2002) Defining reflection: Another look at John Dewey and reflective thinking, Teachers College Record. Vol. 4, Number 4, pp. 842-866.

VanWeelden, K., & Whipple, J. (2014). Music educators’ perceptions of preparation and supports available for inclusion. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 23(2), 33- 51.