Nicholas Rowe: Reflections on upcoming ICDS5


Are we currently playing a requiem on the deck of the Titanic? Is the purpose of our arts activities just to soothe the doomed passengers of planet earth? What are the purposes of arts education, in a world on the brink of collapse? The International Conference of Dalcroze Studies might provide an opportunity to retreat from concerns about the environmental, social, economic and political disasters facing humanity, or present us a mandate to address them, and question our responsibilities as arts educators in 2021.


The world is experiencing mass migration on an unprecedented scale, and this migration is increasing exponentially. The United Nations estimates that currently more than 79 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced as a result of political, economic or environmental catastrophes, and every 2 seconds another person is removed from their home (UN 2020). Of these around 41% is under the age of 18, so by the time it takes to read this abstract, the equivalent of two classrooms of students have been set upon the road. Climate Change is increasing this phenomenon, and it is anticipated that by 2050, 1 in every 9 individuals on the planet will have been subject to forced migration. 

This mass migration will deeply impact our concepts of social cohesion, cultural identity and public education. What are the implications for arts education, and for the role of the arts teacher? Within this presentation I extend Gert Biesta’s call for the re(dis)covery of the teacher, to consider how a performing arts teacher’s purpose may need to respond to the context of sudden and widespread acculturation. Through an argument that distinguishes cultural challenges from social challenges, this article proposes the significance of challenges to cultural integration, and the relevance of performing arts education in addressing these. The concept of teachers as agents of cultural integration is introduced, with considerations of how tertiary institutes can integrate competencies in cultural relativity, political equity and creative facilitation within teacher-training curricula. 

*This abstract comes from the complete lecture which will be given during the upcoming ICDS5.