A chapter I wrote together with Global Visions researchers Danielle Treacy, Vilma Timonen, and Iman Shah has been published in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical and Qualitative Assessment in Music Education!
Recognizing the existing and increasing diversity of contemporary societies, the music classroom may be conceptualized as a meeting place for difference. Music education policy and practice is thus required to contend with various and, at times, conflicting musical and cultural values and understandings. In Nepal, this situation is intensified, with a music education curriculum adopted by the Ministry of Education in 2010 guiding music teaching and learning for 75 national districts and over 125 caste/ethnic groups within a rapidly globalizing society. Assessment plays a key role in framing the knowledge and pedagogical approaches deemed useful or desirable to teach Nepali music students. Indeed, assessment also contributes towards the legitimation of music as a subject, and career, more broadly.
As a process of legitimation, assessment serves as a valuation of certain values over others, and warrants critical reflection if music education is to uphold democratic ideals, such as participation and equal opportunity. Drawing upon John Dewey’s Theory of Valuation (LW13), and data from interviews with Nepali musician-teachers and school administrators, we argue that assessment is an essential component of ethically engaging with difference. If the valuations of assessment as ends-in-view are not critically reflected upon, assessment may restrict a teacher’s capacity to aspire (Appadurai, 2004) to already-known alternatives. In this chapter, we suggest that imagining ends-not-yet-in-view may allow for ethical engagements with values different to one’s own, and encourage reflection upon the inclusive and exclusive processes of assessment that frame whose ends-in-view count, when, how, and what for.