Turning the Magnifying Glass

“We are talking about the schools’ cultivating in the young that most ‘subversive’ intellectual instrument—the anthropological perspective. This perspective allows one to be part of his own culture and, at the same time, to be out of it. One views the activities of his own group as would an anthropologist, observing its tribal rituals, its fears, its conceits…”

-Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, Teaching as a Subversive Activity

Students already appreciate music before they enter a music appreciation class. So is the point to teach students how to appreciate better?

Students already appreciate music. Let us start there. Instead of better, approach the student where she is coming from, as a part of her own culture. Music appreciation, then, is a student exploring her own music appreciation by learning to be on the outside looking in: the anthropological perspective.

There is so much going on in how a 21st century human being appreciates music already. Why not turn the magnifying glass on ourselves rather than on methods from other times?


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