Toward Pedagogy of "Play" for the Mande Bala
Martin, Todd Gregory
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A theoretical model is proposed that posits "play" as both the long-term goal of bala learning, and as the means through which the short-term steps toward that goal can best be achieved. Play is defined in two different ways. In the first sense it is an orchestrating of means and ends in which means are at the centre of interest. In this sense, play is a goal of bala learning. In the second sense, play is defined (using the framework of Applied Behaviour Analysis) as: activities that (a) are inherently reinforcing (and not inherently punishing), and (b) do not eventuate extinction, escape, or avoidance. In this sense, play is conceived as one possible means through which to achieve pedagogical goals. The case is made that Mande bala music is especially well suited to a pedagogy of "play" owing to its intrinsic (musical) characteristics. The pedagogical framework for the study is James Popham and Eva Baker's "empirical model of instruction," which allows for a systematic evaluation of pedagogical methods. Although the model proposed is supported by empirical evidence and has a strong rational underpinning, the model itself is not tested in the present study, but rather, is herein articulated (via illustrative case studies depicting the learning of various bala patterns through digitally mediated meansbooks, CDs, DVDs, etc.) An argument is built to support the notion that in comparison with traditional, immersion-based pedagogical modalities, the digital mediation of bala teaching eventuates a pedagogical loss, but that this pedagogical loss can be attenuated through a more "playful" pedagogical approach.