Term of Award

Summer 2022

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Robert Lake

Committee Member 3

William H. Schubert

Committee Member 3 Email



This dissertation is a speculative memoir where I first compose my memoir (Barrington, 1997/2002; Ledoux, 2006; Zinsser, 1998), and then speculate (Schubert, 1991) the memoir. I question the why’s and how’s of our current public schools’ educational climates where music is often devalued and at times all together eliminated. As a musician and music educator, I have developed a passion for bringing awareness and awakening to the machines of power and control (Au, 2009, 2015; Callahan, 1962; Foucault, 1995; Freire, 2011; Garrison, 2009; Kohn, 2004/2012; Kozol, 1991; Ladson-Billings, 2006; Nussbaum, 2010; Pinar et al., 1995/2000; Ravitch, 2013; Rodriguez, 2011; Saltman & Means, 2015; Watkins, 2012; that seek to silence creativity and creative beings, therefore, creating open spaces (Greene, 1988, 1995 & 2001; Palmer, 1998) where the arts can thrive. I seek to empower the arts and specifically music education through the imagination and social, emotional learning through the lens of imagination and social emotional learning (Baker, 2008; Broudy, 1972; Daspit & Weaver, 2001; Dewey, 1934/2005; Eisner, 1979, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006; Gershon, 2018, 2019; Greene, 1988, 1995, 2001; Ibrahim, n.d., 2019; Lake, 2010, 2013; Love, 2012; Rose, 2010; Rugg, 1963; Schubert, 1975, 2005, 2009, 2009b, 2010). I push the boundaries of traditional dissertation research not only in forms of inquiry (speculative memoir) but also in modes of expression and representation by including songs I have composed and a collaboration artwork. As I share my stories and speculate, six meanings have emerged. (1) Standardization, cult of efficiency (Callahan, 1962), and high-stakes testing (Au, 2009, 2013 & 2015), perpetuate machines of power and control (Foucault, 1995; Au 2009; Freire, 1970/2008), produce docile bodies (Foucault, 1995), and subtract schooling (Valenzuela, 1999; Schubert, 2009). (2) Arts and music shackle test-centric knowledge (Eisner, 1979, 2002; Greene 1995, 2001), liberate from the chains of machines of power and control (West, 2008; Kohn, 2004/2012; Horton, Kohl, & Kohl, 1998), release imagination (Greene, 1995; Rugg, 1963), cultivate creativity (Greene, 1995 & 2001), and inspire potentiality (Eisner, 1994, 2002 & 2003). (3) Building courage to fight against machines of power and control to sustain freedom and agency, teachers need to dismantle the dominant and oppressive narrative (what is tested is valued, and what is not tested is devalued), resist teacher bashing and teacher deskilling (Nunez, 2015), thrive in living in-between the tensions of unanswered questions, and voluntarily exile (He, 2010) to teach towards freedom with the students’ best interest and wellbeing at heart. (4) To thrive as an arts teacher in the contested public-school space, one needs to cultivate inner self and inspire “optimism over despair” (Chomsky, 2017), love over hatred (Darder, 2017), and possibilities over impossibilities (Ayers, 2016; He 2021). (5) Transgressing traditional research by composing a speculative memoir integrated with music and arts is an act of creative resistance against the machines of power and control (Schubert, 1991; Ledoux, 2006; Schalk, 2018; Angelou, 1969/2015). (6) There is an increasing need to develop inspiring learning environments (He, Schultz & Schubert, 2015) where students, teachers, parents, administrators, and policy makers work together to develop a curriculum of imagination and creativity where all students have equal opportunities to dive into their immensurable creativity and reach their highest potential (Siddle-Walker, 1996) for the freedom of the common good with “shared principles and visions for desirable collective futures in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and fragility” (He, 2021, p. 639).

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