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Humor, gender and creativity in music education
Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Department of Music Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7945-9794
Umeå Universitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4106-6781
Number of Authors: 22020 (English)In: The topology of music education as a field of researches, policies and practices, 2020Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this paper we will discuss humor as a gendered resource which opens up spaces for creativity in music education. We will do so by re-analysing empirical material from our two doctoral dissertations focusing on music education in secondary schools in Sweden. 

Humor is often presented as something positive when it comes to education. Humor has for example been pointed out as a resource to create motivation within school-subjects otherwise not regarded as interesting among students. Humor has also been proven fruitful for teachers in order to create a friendly environment and to balance teachers formal position with a more familiar position. In other words, humor seems, within education, to be constructed as a resource to accomplish different educational goals within the classroom. In this paper though, we will discuss difficulties to keep in mind when humor appears in students interactions within the music-classroom. In the following we will draw the attention to some themes we want to discuss which have become visible in our material. 

When it comes to gender, humor does not seem to be a neutral resource. In studies conducted within the secondary school music-education, humor seems to be more frequently used to express masculinity. Students positioned as boys are also more expected to be humoristic and make jokes than students positioned as girls. Similarly, in research regarding the humor-business, humor seems to represent a masculine domain. Even if this is a hierarchical order that seems to change, it is a discourse that is still being reproduced and thus still have a possible explanatory power. Humor as a masculine domaine is in the material also apparent as students positioned as boys expressing humor are not being questioned, which is the case among students positioned as girls.

Language creates binaries. These binaries are contextual and changes over time but are however inevitably producing positions in the particular context. Humor is in our material frequently constructed as the opposite to seriousity. This does not mean that making jokes could not be “serious business”, but rather that the distance to seriousity in itself could be used in interaction to create space, which we would like to discuss in terms of creativity. Making jokes in the different music classrooms can function as resources to create distance to seriousity. In other words, making jokes makes it possible to express yourself in otherwise not socially accepted ways without being criticized. When draped in humor, expressions such as sexism, violence, racism, homofobia etcetera could be articulated and yet not followed by criticism. Even if this could be understood as a somewhat negative way of using humor, it points towards the creative potential that comes with humor in social interaction. This kind of creativity is primarily connected to the positioning work that is being done in interactions. 

Even creativity connected to musical expression is, following our material, facilitated by expressions of humor. Singing in different ways in order to make other people laugh is connected to breaking (and thus at the same time expressing) musical conventions in different contexts. Singing in a funny playful way can also be used as a didactic method to encourage pupils to sing, or as a positive approach during the rehearsal phases of musical processes in school. In secondary school music classrooms the demands from public policy to teach creativity in music is not seldomly done by letting students write songs. In our material we have studied an example in which the students are seriously engaged in expressing humor within their composing. We will argue that this kind of humor increases creativity. Attempting to be humoristic can in other words be very closely connected to creativity. 

Humor could also be understood in negative terms, not in what it produces in terms of creativity in order to make a joke, but rather in what or who is the aim of the joke. Something or someone is always pointed out in jokes. Jokes have, in other words, a normative effect. In our material making jokes could be used to legitimize pointing out someone's mistakes for example, even if teasing is not socially accepted within the classroom. 

 

Finally, these different aspects of humor combined creates different opportunities for musical creativity within music education. These differences are, we argue, important to consider when using humor as a didactic resource. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020.
Keywords [en]
humor, music education, gender studies, musical creativity
National Category
Music Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kmh:diva-3439OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kmh-3439DiVA, id: diva2:1427981
Conference
25th conference of Nordic Network for Research in Music Education at 3-5 March 2020
Available from: 2020-05-04 Created: 2020-05-04 Last updated: 2020-05-14

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