UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The inclusion of musical knowledge and perspectives of a First Nation in three Ontario mainstream schools Archibald, Marian Louise


Ministry of Education policy guidelines (e.g., 2007) call upon educators in Ontario to include cultural knowledge and perspectives of First Peoples in their school practice, and recent provincial arts curricula encourage inclusion of and instruction on music and related knowledge of Aboriginal Peoples. But mainstream music teachers commonly lack knowledge about music of Native North American cultures and culturally appropriate ways of teaching it, instead using approaches and materials that are predicated upon Western notions of music, musicianship, and instructional method (Bowman, 2007). This study, grounded theoretically in critical pedagogy (Kincheloe, 2008) and a constructivist dialogic approach to understanding (Gadamer, 2004/1975), had two purposes: (1) to construct understandings about the school teaching of music of one First Nation cultural group that were voiced by cultural practitioners from that group, and (2) to critically examine changes in teachers’ practices as they engaged with music and related knowledge following their mentoring with these practitioners. Case study method was used in a survey of five mentoring events in which First Nations mentors, most of whom were associated with the Iroquoian cultural group, shared music and related knowledge in mainstream school classrooms. Mentors communicated six clusters of interconnected values—characterized as “who we are and where we come from,” keeping knowledge alive, responsibility, relationship, respect, and “connection and wholeness”—associated with their school sharing of music and related knowledges. They suggested that teachers learn local music from a community cultural teacher and teach music in context with other cultural, historical, and place-based knowledge. The teachers found that accuracy, the importance of story and teachings, and the notion of connection, particularly connection to nature, were significant. While some teachers focused on musical understandings, the teacher who interacted most with community members communicated values that more closely reflected values shared by the mentors. Openness, initiative, and continued interaction with community members promoted change in her practice and her consideration of epistemological, decolonizing, and restorative functions associated with teaching music and knowledge of a First Nation. Through personal reflective ethnography, the researcher examined changes in her own understanding as she engaged in this research.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International