Learning together: music teachers forming a community of practice.
As a consequence of restructuring instrumental music education in the Netherlands, Art Centres increasingly cease to facilitate instrumental music lessons. As a consequence, instrumental teachers are no longer employed in these Centres and have started working as independent entrepreneurs now. The question is how (future) teachers can share their knowledge, renew their profession and shape their professional development without being organised within institutions.
In research conducted by the research group Lifelong Learning in Music into instrumental lessons for elderly learners we worked with a ‘Community of Practice’ (CoP; Lave & Wenger 1991). A group of recently graduated teachers provided instrumental lessons for elderly people. This group of teachers formed a CoP together with teachers with experience in teaching elderly students and the researchers in this study. Members worked within the CoP in varying formations in peer learning sessions and seminars. Meetings of the CoP centred on the exchange and development of knowledge.
In this study I look into the transfer and development of knowledge within this CoP.
The data used in writing this paper are the reflective dairies and logbooks written by the participants following the lessons with elderly students and the meetings of the CoP. The central question of this study is:
“What learning took place in the Community of Practice?
The CoP is a rich learning environment. Learning takes place in a multitude of ways. Learning is stimulated by the multiformity of the group make-up and by using a variety of work forms. Equality is achieved when all the participants have the same opportunity to contribute to the CoP.
Learning in the CoP is influenced by the way in which participants observe, formulate their observations and put these into words. When setting up a CoP as a learning environment attention should be paid to the ways in which reflection as a result of the observations and exchange can be stimulated further.
The collaborative learning which takes place in the CoP is useful for the transfer and development of knowledge. Working with a CoP at the intersection of the professional practice and the professional training is of great value to all those involved.