In 1997 I entered a teaching profession that was already, and continues to be cosmopolitan (κόσμος πολῑ́της, kósmos-polítēs: universe-citizen) and globalist (people and products should cross borders freely and free trade capitalism is good). Universalizable curricula, teaching materials, and philosophies of education have only reinforced our practice's cosmopolitanism and globalism. But cosmopolitanismm and globalism are unsustainable. There have always been people who push back against the supposed forward march of progress, at least to the extent that progress has been in the wrong direction. E.F. Schumacher, in his 1973 book, Small is Beautiful, introduced the idea of home-comers. To conceptualize music teachers as home-comers, lets look at a few quotes:
"On the one side, I see the people who think they can cope with our threefold crisis by the methods current, only more so; I call them the people of the forward stampede. On the other side, there are people in search of a new life-style, who seek to return to certain basic truths about man and his world; I call them home-comers."
"The term 'home-comer' has, of course, a religious connotation. For it takes a good deal of courage to say 'no' to the fashions and fascinations of the age and to question the presuppositions of a civilisation which appears destined to conquer the whole world; the requisite strength can be derived only from deep convictions. If it were derived from nothing more than fear of the future, it would be likely to disappear at the decisive moment. The genuine 'homecomer' does not have the best tunes, but he has the most exalted text, nothing less than the Gospels. For him, there could not be a more concise statement of his situation, of our situation, than the parable of the prodigal son."
"The home-comers base themselves upon a different picture of man from that which motivates the people of the forward stampede. It would be very superficial to say that the latter believe in 'growth' while the former do not. In a sense, everybody believes in growth, and rightly so, because growth is an essential feature of life. The whole point, however, is to give to the idea of growth a qualitative determination; for there are always many things that ought to be growing and many things that ought to be diminishing."
"The whole point is to determine what constitutes progress. And the home-comers believe that the direction which modern technology has taken and is continuing to pursue-towards ever-greater size, ever-higher speeds, and ever-increased violence, in defiance of all laws of natural harmony-is the opposite of progress. Hence the call for taking stock and finding a new orientation. The stocktaking indicates that we are destroying our very basis of existence, and the reorientation is based on remembering what human life is really about."
Taking Schumacher's theory seriously for educational philosophy, there are teachers who think the solution to the problems we face is mere increase. They call for more! Students are paralyzed by standardized testing? Lets try more testing, and for younger children! Students are dropping out because they spend more time than ever doing a narrower core of subjects? Lets narrow the core even more, and add hours to the school day to boot! Of course, when we actually discuss the solutions of teachers of the forward stampede it seems like nonsense. Except, this is what most university teacher educators, teachers, administrators, and politicians are suggesting. More, more, more! Except those who ignore the problems (they call themselves conservatives, but very seldom offer up what they'd actually conserve!).
What teachers of the forward stampede fail to do is slow down, take stock, and orient change. Change needs oriented in meaningful directions. Like a bull in a glassware shop, teachers of the forward stampede look at the destruction they've caused, and say, we need stronger, faster, more action! But teachers as home-comers stop, and say enough! We must slow down. Orient toward home and local places. Conserve. Educate. Sustain actual places, people, and cultures, rather than paving them into the ground with the placeless ideal of more. The teacher as home-comer at times doesn't have the newest toys (iPads or computers that fill the earth with e-waste) but does have the oldest religious traditions. And its not just my Christian tradition that calls for slowing down, assessing the situation, and making ethical choices. Home-comer teachers make qualitative judgements on the direction of growth. Home-comers find which growth, which change will actually work. They're not tied to the same old "progressive" practices; more standardization, more testing, more time under florescent lighting. Homecomer teachers are, perhaps, the true progressives, the true liberals, the true radicals; and also the true conservatives working in, through, and at times against, our institutions. We look at that which is destroying the very basis of our existence, and reorient.
On a side note, you can rent my book Eco-Literate Music Pedagogy for under $5 on Amazon. If you haven't read it yet, this is the time!