Per Formar – Explore, Engage, Think, Learn… Change!

Research in the field of music education recognizes the need to change from the “classical conservatoire culture” that, according to Sloboda (2005), emphasises the “reproduction of musical artworks within the formal classical tradition” and, although being still relevant for a lot of its practitioners, it is no longer adequate “for the majority of our children”. Despite this awareness, most of the music education systems maintain traditional based on imitation and repetition of technical skills, instead of valuing the creative dimensions of music making (Campbell et al. 2007; Cope, 2002; Elliott, 1995; Gaunt, 2007).
Departing from the diagnosis within a Portuguese music school, recognizing that some the dimensions of its intervention where not achieving the desirable results, namely regarding the students’ motivation and implication to engage with music learning, the school decided to implement a process of change, questioning many of the dimensions of its practice.
The process of change in a traditional institution such as School is admittedly difficult. However, the school’s management and some of the teachers recognized that, as Kratus (2015:340) states, change “is not an option; it is mandatory and inevitable” because “when something ceases to change and adapt to shifting circumstances, it ceases to exist” (2015:3), referring also that “change in music education is made even more problematic, because those who would promote change are in the minority” (2015:345). Dembo & Seli (2004), researching about processes of institutional change, refer that, among other aspects, failures in change process often occur because the people involved don’t want to change, don’t know what and how to change. This can create “uncertainty, frustration or fear” [and a resistance] to change initiatives” (Yılmaz & Kılıçoğlu, 2013:18). Being aware of this internal resistance, and trying to implement a more effective and successful process, some teachers were “empowered” to explore and experiment different approaches and reflect on the possibilities to adequate alternatives to their own teaching reality.
In his role as the school’s coordinator of international projects, the author of this paper developed and implemented a teachers’ training project, financed by the Erasmus+ program, whose objective was to be the starting point of a process of change, including in this process the school’s main decision makers, regarding the pedagogical and artistic guidance, and also teachers in the field. Being aware of the limitations of the Portuguese teachers’ training programs regarding the issues to be addressed, the approval of the financing for this project allowed training possibilities in countries with know-how in this areas.
Not being identified the specific training needs of the teachers, it was assumed that in this two year project the participants should explore as many as possible different pedagogical, didactical, performative and organizational approaches to music teaching, but assuming that the intention is not to promote any radical change (risking even more resistance to change) but, as Kratus (2015:346) suggests, to “embrace small acts of subversion” and hope that, eventually, to “undermine the status quo [so that] systematic change occurs.”
This exploration and risk taking requires a different stance regarding the teachers: instead of assuming a master-apprentice posture, he will return to a learning role, engaging in areas that he does not master, implying the assumption of a critical perspective and refusing the ‘banking model’ of education criticized by Freire (1970).
The paper presented here intends to describe the process and reflect about the institutional and individual transformation occurred during the two years of the project, addressing and discussing some of the most relevant aspects. Another important and essential aspect if the identification of possibilities to implement the second phase of the change process.

Event Title European Conference on Educational Research - ECER2018
Comunication Title Per Formar – Explore, Engage, Think, Learn... Change!
Date 3 of September of 2018