Music as a Platform for Intercultural Understanding: Early Childhood Curriculum and a Growing Neoliberal Imperative

  • Aleksandra Acker
  • Berenice Nyland
Part of the Intercultural Studies in Education book series (ISE)


This chapter discusses the significance of the language of music to encourage intercultural dialogue within educational settings. We argue that the development of intercultural understanding is of particular importance in the early years as it is during this time that attitudes and perceptions are formed that will have a profound influence on future relationships. Neglect of the arts in education is therefore to be decried, as early childhood curriculum, a feature of educational reform across the globe, has tended to become an expression of neoliberalism and reflect a view of children as an investment for the future knowledge economy. In this context, the arts, especially music, are marginalised in educational reform agendas. An emphasis on formal literacy and numeracy prevails. This is not an evidence-based choice but an ideological one. We explore the intercultural potential of music by observing children in early childhood settings in Australia, China and Serbia. Our observations illustrate children singing across languages and engaging in social and complex ideas in a purposeful manner that encourages social meaning making. Music is a tool in promoting intercultural understanding, and its dwindling presence in the early childhood curriculum is a social-justice concern. As there is an ever-increasing movement across borders, with globalisation, wars, regime change and other causes of displacement of people, removing aspects of the education curriculum that promote social and cultural cohesion becomes a rights issue.


Music Intercultural understanding Early childhood curriculum Neoliberalism Observation Australia China Serbia 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleksandra Acker
    • 1
  • Berenice Nyland
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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