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date: 19 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter proposes that educators can draw productive consequences for qualitative assessment in music education from C. S. Peirce’s and John Dewey’s views on how qualities operate in experience. Peirce saw qualities as meaning-potentials, to be actualized as generalized signs in the process of inquiry. Dewey made qualities phenomenological cornerstones of grasping a world in flux, transformed into habits of action that can be interpreted as meaningful in certain contexts. For Dewey, optimally, such transformation amounts to “consummatory experiences” characterized by “esthetic” qualities that are best represented by the arts. Together, Peirce’s and Dewey’s views suggest that developing contextual aesthetic judgment could be an important strategy for qualitative assessment in music education. This also provides a basis for understanding how values are drawn out from experience. In line with Dewey, this chapter calls this process “evaluation,” arguing that qualitative assessment concerns as much ethical as aesthetic matters. One way to specify this claim is to say that evaluation is conducive to equality, implying that there is a close bond between recognition of the uniqueness of qualitative experience and a democratic way of life. As a sounding board for these thoughts, the chapter uses the new Finnish national Core Curriculum for Basic Education, suggesting ways to approach qualitative assessment that are conducive to its cognitive, aesthetic, ethical, and political goals.

Keywords: music education, assessment, pragmatism, curriculum, Finland

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