Elementary Music Education, Informal Learning, and the “new” Sociology of Childhood

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This work offers a potential paradigm shift in primary music education. The children in this study emerge not as passive recipients of an adult selected childhood musical culture but as active agents, producing, constructing and reproducing their own unique childhood musical cultures alongside their teacher/facilitator. This view places the child in an active role in the creation and reproduction of their childhood. There are no studies we know of that investigate this mode of music learning from this particular sociological perspective.


“The author’s descriptions of her research, including how she planned instruction that transitioned students from a more traditional formal learning environment to one including informal learning practices, provides foundational practical support for music educators looking to do the same. And the fact that the author chose to make that transition through improvisational activities that provided choice and encouraged creativity, musical thinking, and imagination adds to the importance of this study because foremost, there are the ways through which young children learn, but also these kinds of engagement address the current focus and concern with developing thoughtful engaged learners and creative schools.”
-Dr. Lisa M. Gruenhagen,
Assistant Professor Music Education,
Bowling Green State University

“I found this study to be unique, thorough, clearly presented, and potentially of great interest to music educators of young children. In constructing and demonstrating a new music pedagogy for grade one students, Linton has potentially contributed to the musical learning and experience of countless students and teachers as they adapt an informal learning approach within what is traditionally a formal environment… It also has the strength of being transferable to other classrooms with other teachers with the potential of having an immediate practical application and impact.”
-Dr. Victoria Meredith,
Associate Academic Dean,
Western University, Canada

“The study is meticulously organized and the research methodology is sound… this study adds new knowledge to the study of childhood education in music through the process of informal learning, and has the potential to inspire further work on childhood education in subjects outside of music.”
-Dr. Catherine Nolan,
Associate Dean Graduate Studies,
Western University, Canada

Table of Contents

Chapter One-Introduction
Significance of the study
Research questions
How the study was conducted
Participants of the study
Overview of book
Chapter Two- Review of Literature
Selecting the literature
Informal learning – Origin and genesis
Informal learning and music education
Musical meaning and informal music learning pedagogy
Critiques and concerns related to informal learning
Informal learning and young children
Sociology and informal learning
The Sociology of childhood
Prior literature on children and Sociology
The New sociology of childhood
The Sociology of 10-12 year olds
Chapter Three-Methodology
Restatement of research questions
Paradigmatic basis of the research study
What is a paradigm?
Thomas Kuhn and the paradigm shift
Paradigm selection through ontology, epistemology and methodology
What is ontology?
What is epistemology?
What is methodology?
Paradigm, ontology, epistemology and method in this study
Research method – Case study
What is a case study?
Benefits of case study research
Limitations of case study research
Why case study in this research?
Other research approaches considered and rejected
Design of the case study – Choosing the case
Role of the researcher
Role of the teacher
Data collection
Audio-visual materials
Data analysis
Coding the data and coding techniques
Data analysis
Descriptions of informal learning units
Unit 1 – Listening and copying vocally
Unit 2 – Playing familiar melodies by ear
Unit 3 - Playing harmony and singing melodies by ear
Research ethics and studying children
Respect for persons
Concern for welfare
Chapter 4 – Results and discussion
Research question 1 – results and discussion
Summary of research question 1
Research question 2 – results and discussion
Summary of research question 2
Research question 3 – results and discussion
Summary of research question 3
The beginning stages of critical thinking through informal learning?
Chapter 5 – Findings and Recommendations
Significant findings
Reproduction of childhood culture in the Grade One music classroom
Unanticipated progression
Re-conceptualizing informal learning pedagogy
Children’s agency and musical culture in the classroom
“Informed” informal learning
A paradigm shift in music education
Limitations of research
Implications for future research

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