Making Sense of Public Issues with Songs
James B. Howell
The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Alabama
Arguments surrounding public issues are not always expressed in writing; they often take visual and auditory forms. In recent years, scholarship encouraging teachers and students to think deeply about songs—music and lyrics—has increased. Historical analysis of songs from the past can help students develop critical listening habits useful for interpreting contemporary songs. We share an inquiry-based, research-into-practice lesson centered around the following question: Was the US justified in pursuing nuclear weapons following the conclusion of World War II? We highlight a public issues approach where students use historical content and analysis as evidence to defend a chosen public policy.
Key words: Public Issues, Music Literacy, Historical Thinking, Inquiry-Based Instruction, Civic Competence