Teaching Social Justice: A Case Study of Riot Grrrl at School of Rock
In this paper, I examine a ‘Riot Grrrl’ performance project at a School of Rock in the US Midwest, suggesting that this case study offers useful insights and reflections for teaching social justice in popular music education settings. This case study is particularly interesting and complex for having been initiated and led by two male instructors and taught to a mixed-gender group of teenage students. Drawing on participant-observation and interviews, I examine the dual aims of teaching and learning Riot Grrrl as music and as social justice, looking at the ways in which the two perspectives co-existed in the instructors’ pedagogical practices and the students’ learning. I pay particular attention to the ways in which these aims can be at odds with one another, examining a conflict that arose between the instructors as an instance of these understandings being in tension with one another. I suggest that such moments of tension can be productive and instructive for these seeking to balance musical and social justice aspects of teaching and learning in popular music education.
Dr. Kayla Rush is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow in the School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music at Dublin City University. Her research examines rock music schools as sites for the performance and reproduction of social class. Previous work has been published in Religion and the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy, and she is co-editor (with Sonja Kleij) of a forthcoming special issue of Liminalities titled ‘Performance and Politics, Power and Protest’. Kayla is a teacher and practitioner of creative ethnography, on which topic she edited a recent special issue of the Irish Journal of Anthropology.