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Friday, July 1, 2016

Special Needs

I think I told this story before: I once told a group of music education students about my developing ideas about 'idiocultural music education', a form of music education that acknowledges the musical individuality of every child and takes that as its point of departure. (Many people say: "Oh, I do that all the time. What's new?" I take the liberty to doubt that - true idiocultural music education is a severe paradigm shift once you think it through. And, I would like to add for those interested, it has something to do with Gert Biesta's idea of 'subjectivation' as one of the three functions of education.)
After my talk, one of the students came to me and told me that, after three years of study, this was the first time he thought about the actual pupils as individuals, rather than as a group.

I was happy to hear it. But it's hard to feel flattered by such a frank but shocking remark.

These last days I was in an endless series of meetings. One of them was a meeting with music education students. They were in a music education programme with ties with a music therapy programme. A couple of the music education students recounted that their worldview was turned upside down after having cooperated with music therapy students. They used remarkable similar words as the student I mentioned above: "After working with the music therapy students, I suddenly realized I should not define my future job as preparing lessons to be taught to a group, but rather to become musically involved with all those individuals."

In Dutch, education for children with 'special needs' is called 'special education' ('speciaal onderwijs'). I guess the project is to make people realize that every educational situation might be special.

And that every child has special needs, which deserve to be discovered and then met by their music teacher.

Can any job be more honorable?

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