'I don't know anything about music' : an exploration of primary teachers' knowledge about music in education
Teachers' thinking underpins their actions, in various ways, consciously or nonconsciously, and therefore it is necessary to understand their thinking in order to understand their teaching. Part of such thinking concerns subject knowledge, which is an important, albeit often assumed, feature in professional practice. For primary school teachers who cover the breadth of the National Curriculum there are particular issues. In music, despite frequent reports from Ofsted referring to the good quality of teaching, there still appears to be considerable lack of confidence among such teachers, frequently linked with a perceived lack of subject knowledge. Subject knowledge in music is under-researched in this country and this small-scale study was intended to explore the nature of teachers' beliefs about music in education. In a qualitative case study approach, the teachers in a two-form-entry, inner-city primary school talked individually, in three separate sessions over the course of an academic year, about various aspects of music in education. They also constructed concept maps to represent their thinking. A process of inductive and iterative analysis led to the identification of four main findings concerning enjoyment, the value of music, issues relating to instrumental teaching and the use of schools' broadcasts. These aspects form the basis of a discussion which moves beyond the original research questions to build an orthogonal model that conceptualises and contextualises teachers' thinking within two dimensions representing their professional/non-professional lives and the formal/informal contexts of musical involvement, nested in their beliefs regarding the nature and value of music. It is suggested that this model might also apply to other subjects. There are implications from this study not only for teachers themselves and for the schools in which they work, but also for those involved in supporting student and practising teachers through ITE, INSET and CPD, as well as for policymakers.