The Invisible Student: Understanding Social Identity Construction Within Performing Ensembles, by Ryan M. Hourigan, and Think Everything's "Normal?" Then It's Time to Reconsider and Promote a New Narrative of Disability, by Drew Serres.
Hourigan, R. M. (2009). The invisible student: Understanding social identity construction within performing ensembles. Music Educators Journal, 34-38.
Serres, D. Think Everything’s “Normal?” Then It’s Time To Reconsider And Promote A New Narrative Of Disability. Retrieved from http://organizingchange.org/think-everythings-normal-then-its-time-to-reconsider-and-promote-a-new-narrative-of-disability/
Ryan Hourigan and Drew Serres both offer articles that pertain to the need for inclusion within the classroom. They mention the problems of dealing with “normality” and “invisible” students and offer suggestions on how to ensure that every student feels involved, regardless on their own differentiating characteristics and behaviour.
Within Hourigan’s article, he mentions the concept of a student being “invisible” in the classroom. He defines the term as students who are relatively new students or students who are socially awkward and timid towards others (35). When it comes to social identity, Hourigan finds that it is a concern that is present amongst all students, even with students without special needs. While music is truly an interactive experience to have, some students can more often than not have an unpleasant time being in a musical ensemble due to their own social identity. Being in the same situation as Hourigan’s example in the article, I can agree that there should be more awareness within the classroom about students who are overlooked by students. Being one of the few first-year students in Western Singers choir, I would consider myself an “invisible” student at the beginning of the year due to the ensemble consisting of mostly upper-year students. However, I began to open myself up to my peers after I began to connect with my peers within my own section. Most of the suggestions that Hourigan offers to create a more inclusive environment, including the positive atmosphere in the ensemble and having peers as allies, is what I have experienced thanks in part to the work of my conductor, Lydia Adams, as well as the various ensemble members in the choir.
Serres’ main thought of his article is all about the term “normalcy” and the possible exclusion behind the term. When he further discusses the meanings behind the term, I can agree that while having normalcy in our society could be considered alright by most people’s/student’s standards, this means that the minority of the population is left out and frowned upon by the majority, creating a sense of desperation in their lives to be seen as normal in the eyes of society. He also writes that normalcy could lead to a mentality among students to conform to the “status quo” of what is expected at school, and as a result change their own behaviour and habits. What stood out to me while reading this article was that he mentions how normalcy is often depicted by some to “overcome a disability”. I feel that what Serres is saying that the disability doesn’t have to be specifically a mental or physical ability, but it could include a student’s own social identity. This is what is troubling for students in school since it wipes away a student’s creative ideas and can interfere with many things going on in the student’s own personal life. As Serres mentions various ways to discontinue the need to force normalcy into our society, I believe that there is a further need to promote diversity and raise awareness about this issue of normalcy.
In all, I felt that Hourigan’s and Serres’ articles spoke truths about the issues of inclusion and normalcy in the classroom. While there is a consistent problem that involves one’s social identity in school, I believe that we as educators should learn how to deal with this sort of issue and ensure our teaching strategies don’t undermine the creativeness of a student.
What I Would Ask the Author?
- (Hourigan) Are there any strategies about how to treat students who are “invisible” due to their own religious background or race?
- (Serres) Is there any way that we can create a sense of diversity in our society or classrooms, without sounding too overbearing to others?