Youth Culture and Secondary Education

Randall Everett Allsup, Heidi Westerlund and Eric Shieh

in The Oxford Handbook of Music Education, Volume 1

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730810
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Youth Culture and Secondary Education

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Music teachers and researchers are looking more closely at the young people in their classrooms, as if in response or in reaction to increasing diversity and globalization. Relevance is no longer assumed to be automatic, and a quest for so-called real-world or authentic musical experience is sought as a way to direct what gets taught and why. However, such questions of worth and value, with their attendant concerns with authenticity and identity, are imperfect. Rather, youth culture is more adequately understood as cultures of youth—creative, plural, contradictory, dynamic, and purposeful. Thus, with no essentialized view of adolescence to guide educators, and a suspicion about what counts as real or unreal, the central questions that guide contemporary music education should be those which address agency and criticality. How do youths develop critical and creative agency through the study of music, and what role do the cultures of youth play in this development? Using this conceptual frame, this article repositions the varied literature on the culture industry, popular music, informal learning, and community music in search for a space of praxis, where the tensions between cultural integration and youth agency might be negotiated and the business of education conducted. In doing so, it advocates a pedagogy that addresses both the present and future lives of youths, and their multiple and contingent cultures.

Keywords: music education; music teachers; youth culture; adolescence; creative agency; culture industry; popular music; informal learning; community music

Article.  7540 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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