Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week 3

One of the more intriguing pieces of information I ran across while doing the readings this week was the fact that in the 1950s, approximately 50% of students were involved in music, while that number today hovers more around 10%.  50%! I can't get over that number, in fact, it is really difficult to imagine any school where 50% of the students were involved in music.  It really makes one think about the changing priorities of the society as a whole.  The trend of focusing more and more on the improvement of standardized test scores does not stimulate the minds of the students and it certainly does not make the students excited to come to school every day.  Shouldn't our responsibility as educators be creating lifelong learners instead of proficient test takers?  I want my students to be curious and interested in all subjects, and to do that, it is important not to make the gaining of knowledge such a tedious task.

 I also found Nehamas's piece, An Essay on Beauty and Judgement, thought provoking as well; especially the aspect of aesthetics being based on the time period that they inhabit.  What can be considered "beautiful" must rely on the history of beauty as well as the cultural and societal cues of the time period.  Mozart may not find the work of Arnold Schoenberg to be beautiful, but that may be simply because he has not been exposed to the works that lead music to that point.  It is, at times, difficult to see the beauty of works that push the boundaries of aesthetics, but it is important to keep this concept in the mind, as it adds a bit of essential humility to life.  The idea of beauty is something that is ever-changing and always elusive.  

To me, the use of functional MRI scans have been such an amazing tool for not only the scientific community, but for all of humankind.  The ability to map brain activity in real time is simply incredible, and being able to see such awe inspiring technology used in congruence with music is fascinating.  Being able to see the physical  and psychological benefits that music provides is really rewarding and also a little depressing when we look back at the initial statistic I used.  10%... Surely, such a beneficial aspect of humanity should be getting more attention in our greater educational community.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 2

This week brought a lot of new information and things to ponder.

We discussed Plato and Aristotle's views on education, and one thing I found particularly fascinating about this exploration was the fact that both Plato and Aristotle held music and music education in such high regard.  While doing additional research on the topic, I ran across a quote on Aristotle's view of music education that I enjoyed:

"Before children are ready for intellectual training, however, they  must acquire a taste for harmony in music so that they will be inclined to seek the harmony of their souls through a proper balance, in which the appetites are subordinated to the rule of reason" (Sorbom, pg. 40)

Source: Göran Sörbom. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. Vol. 52, No. 1, The Philosophy of Music (Winter, 1994), pp. 37-46

I especially like the end of the quote.  I believe that too often in today's society we allow ourselves to become ruled by our emotions, and by attempting to take a step back, gain a new perspective, or utilize logic and reason to dictate our actions, we can lead a healthier and more productive lifestyle.  It is, of course, very difficult, if not impossible to completely eliminate the effects our emotions can have upon us, but really trying to be impartial and objective is still a very useful intellectual exercise.

Another topic that we had a somewhat heated argument on was whether or not technological devices should be allowed during class.  And while the advances in technology and access to information have been incredibly progressive in some regards, I honestly believe that our reliance on technology is becoming more and more of a detriment.  All too often I find myself sitting in any number of places surrounded by silence and downward staring faces.  Conversation has been replaced by the iPhone.  Philosophy was built upon conversations and arguments.  And in a class where we are studying the deeper questions of life and education, it is important to be fully engaged.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 1

The first week of class was a great start to what I am sure will be an intellectually stimulating class.  I love the idea of putting away all technology in order to maximize discussion.  Discussion and argument are key concepts in the realms of philosophy and education, and the free interchange of ideas and perspectives is an integral part of being a well rounded educator and person.

I am really looking forward to seeing where the discussions and topics we cover in class will take us, as well as the intellectual challenge that a class like this offers.