Carruthers, G. (2009). Engaging music and media: Technology as a universal language. Research & Issues in Music Education, 7(1), 1–9. Retrieved from http://www.stthomas.edu/rimeonline/vol7/carruthers.htm
This week I read “Engaging Music and Media: Technology as a Universal Language.” (Carruthers, 2009) The article is about the role of music and technology in education and how they might play a role together. The article doesn’t offer new research, but it does synthesize others’ research.
The first discussion is about the roles of music, within education and how they might affect each other. Carruthers states that music often plays a secondary role in education. Meaning, that we don’t teach music as part of our curriculum because music is good, in and of itself, we have music within our curriculum because it supports something else. As a music teacher, I often find myself saying “This directly supports you” to other content teachers. You don’t often hear a math teacher justifying why the kids need to learn math. There is an array of reasons why music is valuable on its own legs. It doesn’t need to be supporting anything else.
After reading the article, I recognized that I had used the same type of reasoning as the supporters of Flores v. Arizona. As discussed in “Keeping up the Good Fight: the said and unsaid in Flores V. Arizona.” The supporters had many reasons why the ELL funding in Arizona should be awarded to the schools. The findings, however, showed the reasons from the supporting side fell under the idea of, ‘you should support this because you’ll get this out of it’ mentality. (Thomas, Risri Aletheiani, Carlson, & Ewbank, 2014)With that being said, great teachers integrate all areas into their content. Students need to see how everything is interrelated. Often times children are taught in compartments: math in math class, science in science class…etc, but our lives do not work this way.
Music has, what Caruthers calls, a division of labor. In music, this is the composer, performer and listener; each has their separate job and people rarely cross over. With the addition of technology, this isn’t necessarily the case. My own children compose music with special applications that do not require them to read music. Anyone with the right software can do all three. I see this as one of the biggest impacts technology has had on music. In the past, if one didn’t read music, composing to share with other was rather difficult. Now with software and media- sharing, this becomes relatively easy.
In order to look at the various ways technology impacts us, Caruthers defines technology as anything “from the wheel” to “a personal computer.” This immediately caught me off guard. Defining what is technology never occurred to me. I simply thought of technology as laptops, computers and electronic devices and any software to go along with it, but after reading how Caruthers is approaching technology, I may have to be more specific in what I’m viewing as technology within my research. The ways technology can have an impact, according to Caruthers, can be broken into four parts, technology that: 1. makes things easier to do than it was before, 2. does things better than before, 3. allows us to do things we couldn’t do before and 4. makes us think differently. Again, I had to consider the future of my research. At what level of impact am I going to be assessing. For instance, making it easier to do things than it was before, such as multiplication practice, may not have as big of an impact on student achievement as something that makes the student think in a different way.
The article was more thought provoking than I expected it to be. Carruthers was clear from the beginning, he was reviewing previous research and that the paper would not answer many of the questions. The purpose of the paper is to create discussion and it proved to do just that. It caused me to look at the research I’m heading into and the basics of how I will approach it. I am dealing with so many more layers than I had previously thought. Carruthers poses, “It is incumbent upon us as educators not only to evaluate the uses of technology – to extol its virtues and denounce its failings – but also to explore deeply how it encourages or causes us to think differently about the world around us.” In my research, I will have to decide if I’m going to look at the level of technology that creates the deepest learning or do I not even take it into consideration. Do I continue looking at the impact of music with technology on achievement or solely at the impact technology? If I research the impact of music and technology together, does the depth of learning within the music matter in the research? For instance, composing is a deeper depth of knowledge than identifying notes. How does one take this into consideration? If my research does show an impact on student achievement, is it necessary or valuable to determine if the act of utilizing technology is creating more engagement or is the technology deepening the students’ understanding? Either one could impact student achievement; is there a way to tell which it is? How do I approach the research in a manner that will include my community and their views? In fact, can I even account for the ways technology and especially music has on the community?
Carruthes said it well, “Many of the benefits of music study, some of which are imbedded in the art form itself, are intended by teachers and curriculum planners while others are not” I suspect, that this is the case in technology as well. Unfortunately, it adds another question for me. How do I consider this in my research?
Overall, the article was well written and professional. It was organized in a logical way and he was very clear that he was presenting theories and that, as a literature review, was creating more questions than could be answered in this one piece. His ideas are insightful and have definitely given me pause. I have a lot to consider as I dive deeper into my research.
Thomas, M. H., Risri Aletheiani, D., Carlson, D. L., & Ewbank, A. D. (2014). “Keeping up the good fight”: the said and unsaid in Flroes v. Arizona. Policy Futures in Education, 12(2), 242–261. doi:10.2304/pfie.2014.12.2.242