Student Teachers' Confidence and Anxiety in Relation to Music Education. (the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning)

Article excerpt

Abstract

Student teachers bring with them a variety of perceptions relating to their own ability and confidence both in their own musical ability and in their ability to teach music in the generalist classroom. These perceptions have been influenced by students' background in the years prior to their University enrollment. Some students are confident while others are very anxious about the thought of teaching music to a classroom of school children. This study investigates if there is a correlation between the age of the students, their tertiary entrance score, year level, socioeconomic background, and their anxiety in relation to music education, their confidence in teaching music lessons and their musical background.

Background

Student teachers enrolling in University or other teacher training institutions bring with them a variety of perceptions relating to their own ability and confidence both in their own musical ability and in their ability to teach music in the generalist classroom. These perceptions have been influenced by students' background in the years prior to their University enrollment. Some students are confident while others are very anxious about the thought of teaching music to a classroom of school children. Earlier research (Mills, 1989, Russell-Bowie, 1993) indicates that approximately 60 - 70% of Primary Teacher Education students enter their primary teachers training having minimal, if any, formal music education experience, either from school or from out-of-school activities. Lephard (1995) adds to these observations, indicating that `the majority of students entering university for generalist training do not have substantial music literacy, and the time allotment for music is inadequate to produce teachers who are sufficiently competent and confident to successfully implement a music program'. Some evidence seems to indicate that a lack of a good background in music education decreases the student's self-concept in regard to their ability to make or teach music. This is alluded to in the Plowden Report (CACE, 1967:251) from Britain, which indicates that primary teachers' lack of confidence and ability resulted from inadequate teaching in their Secondary and Tertiary education.

There has been at least some support in empirical research for the relationship between parental involvement and interest in music and their children's musical outcomes. For example, Russell-Bowie (1993) has shown that family background factors such as income, language background, and urban living were significant factors related to the amount of musical experiences children have at home, the priority their local primary schools give to music, and the priority their parents give to music.

However, many families, and indeed schools, are not providing children with this nurturing musical background. Many Australian public schools are reaping the results of decades of inadequate music education in most primary schools as children who have come through this system are now back in schools as teachers or are training to be teachers. Because of the lack of supportive family background and adequate training in music, generalist teachers are anxious about, and lack confidence in teaching each of these subjects and therefore often end up omitting the subjects from their program (Russell-Bowie, 1993). The seriousness of the situation has been reflected repeatedly in numerous reports into Arts Education over the past 35 years and anecdotally, this scenario is repeated in classrooms around the world where generalist teachers are required to teach music and the other arts. This study samples preservice teachers from five different countries and examines factors relating to their anxiety about, and their confidence in music education.

Aim

This study was part of a larger Creative Arts: Students' Attitudes - National and Overseas Associates (CASANOVA) study. The aim was to survey a sample of generalist Teacher Education students from six Universities or Colleges of Education around the world to investigate their attitudes towards the Creative Arts. …