Saving Arts Education in New Zealand

Posted by mariamengel on July 21, 2011

Arts Education in New Zealand, like in America, is continuing to move further and further down the hierarchy of knowledge and curriculum promoted by the state.  In an effort to “prevent further marginalisation” of the arts in New Zealand schools, the concept of multiliteracies is beginning to take hold in New Zealand’s “Arts Curriculum”.  The paper entitled Multiliteracies: A New Direction for Arts Education details the links between the traditional definition of “literacy” in the school curriculum and how it relates to music.  The article is written by Trevor Thwaites, Centre for the Arts, Auckland College of Education, Auckland, New Zealand.Taken directly from the Thwaites’ article, this chart details how the concept of jazz design can be linked to the specific elements of linguistic design.  Thwaites created this chart using an idea promoted by the New London Group (1996:73-77):

Delivery: Features of intonation, rhythm, accents, pitch, articulation, harmony.
Vocabulary and Metaphor: Includes the scales, harmonies and rhythmic configurations necessary to impart particular meanings.
Modality: The musicians’ commitment to the message/music.
Transitivity: The nature of the jazz language used for example to give a particular feel, or to produce a pre-conceived emotional response.
Nominalisation of Process: The packaging of the musical message (e.g., musical motifs and phrases) including hidden meanings, ‘hipness’, trends, etc. Also relates to the musician’s ability.
Information Structures: How the music is presented – structure, solos, embellishments, etc.
Local Coherence Relations: Whether the music being played is coherent – do the solos fit the melody and nature of the tune; the venue; the audience.
Global Coherence Relations: The overall organisational properties of the performance, such as genre and style (can it be categorised as bop, neo bop, fusion, funk, acid jazz, etc).


New London Group, The (1996) A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures, Harvard Education Review, Vol 66, No 1, Spring 1996.


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