Elementary Music Educators' Use of Folk Songs With Racist Origins and Anti-Racist Pedagogical Practices

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The purpose of this survey study was to investigate the self-reported practices of P–6 elementary general music teachers (N = 275) regarding their experiences with American folk songs with racist origins. A secondary purpose was to examine P–6 elementary general music teachers’ familiarity with and incorporation of anti-racist pedagogical practices into their teaching. Data were collected through an online questionnaire. Out of 19 folk songs with racist origins, “Jingle Bells” was the song most participants (67.6%) continued to teach and was the only song that 50% or more participants continued to teach. I categorized participants’ responses regarding why they discontinued teaching the 19 songs as follows: (a) racism/minstrelsy and (b) origins/history. Additionally, participants’ American folk songs with racist origins were categorized under teaching and planning. Musical enjoyment/utility and teaching about racism/minstrelsy were subcategories for teaching, while removing/replacing and learning through researching were subcategories for planning. Regarding anti-racist pedagogical practices, 76.6% of participants agreed that teachers should teach songs that represent various races and ethnicities in respectful ways even if they disagreed that teachers should use folk songs to challenge race, privilege, equity, and racial/ethnic injustices. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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Journal of Research In Music Education

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