Human Restoration Project
109: On Constructionism, Makerspaces, & Music Ed w/ Burton Hable
I am joined today by Burton Hable. Burton Hable is a music educator, currently living in Central Virginia. He is a doctoral student in Boston University’s Music Education program, and his research interests lie in how people construct music knowledge in the context of a makerspace. He also serves as the Operations and Building Manager for the Charlottesville Band. Prior to moving to Virginia in the summer of 2018, he taught instrumental music in Iowa for eight years. I’ve also known Burton for 20 years now, as we were high school classmates and played trombone in the same high school band together, and both of us came back years later to teach in the same district we graduated from. In so many ways, Burton and I share a similar journey in arriving at progressive education, and I am grateful to call him a friend and a learning partner for these many years.
As the title mentions, this episode focuses on the niche pedagogy of “constructionism” largely attributed to one man, Seymour Papert, who published his first book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, back in 1980. It’s both fascinating and frustrating that despite 4 decades of research supporting the powerful impact on cognition and the opportunity for collaboration inherent in these ideas, the philosophy and framework of constructionism and similarly modeled “makerspaces” are still only deployed in limited pockets on the fringes of the standard model of school. This conversation gets at the same central premise as so many others on this podcast, that is our limited imagination about “what works” in schools as they are currently structured, and “what works to do what” within music education in particular. What does it mean to be musically literate? To be a musician? Burton Hable imagines the role of makerspaces supported by constructionist pedagogy in music ed as a way to expand and enrich the standard model for students, with the goal of creating a broader collaborative experience for students to engage with all aspects - creating, performing, responding, and connecting - of what it means to be musical.
Burton Hable, music educator & Operations and Building Manager for the Charlottesville Band
- Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas by Seymour Papert (open access)
- Review: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms by Nick Covington