Is it mu­sic , dance or crit­i­cal think­ing?

The Manica Post - - Education / Entertainment - Mor­ris Mtisi

WHEN you move around schools and have op­por­tu­nity to see ex­hi­bi­tions of their mu­sic and dance, you mar­vel at the sheer en­ergy, gym­nas­tics and elas­tic­ity of the bod­ies of stu­dents.

Some make you won­der if they have bones. Save for oft the lewd­ness and ex­plic­it­ness of some of the chore­og­ra­phy, there is noth­ing wrong with chil­dren en­joy­ing them­selves, es­pe­cially their mu­sic.

The new cur­ricu­lum of­fers PE (Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion), Ubun­thu, Mu­sic and Dance. When you see the three­some in full swing, your mind is bog­gled at how these three are sup­posed to groom the same young hu­man be­ing.

First, to give the sweat­ing busy bod­ies dur­ing the mu­sic and dance the ben­e­fit of doubt, you can say, “well, they need the stren­u­ous elec­tric danc­ing)” then se­condly, you quickly ask your­self, “but there is PE.

Is this not where this break-danc­ing that re­sem­bles some­thing we don’t talk about openly must be show-cased?”

Be­fore you are quite clear with your an­swers, you ask your­self again, “what does ubun­thu (hunhu) say about such mu­sic?” Mind you the cur­ricu­lum at the same time ad­vo­cates crit­i­cal think­ing? We do not just dance or watch. Both the dancer and the au­di­ence must think.

What is go­ing on in the lit­tle minds as they are danc­ing?

Per­haps I should have long asked, “how many teach­ers or par­ents care to find out the lyrics of the songs our chil­dren play and dance to?

Or we shut our brains and watch the ‘movie’ with­out think­ing and ask­ing, ‘but for heaven’s sake what is this? What is go­ing on? What ef­fect does this have on the lit­tle minds?”

When our chil­dren choose this song and not that one, do we know or un­der­stand why? Or we only cheer them on and damn the psy­cho­so­mat­ics cre­ated by both the song and the rapid move­ments (gy­rat­ing)?

Is that what mu­sic and dance is all about in the new cur­ricu­lum? Just that and noth­ing more? Fine. We hope mu­sic and dance will not end up like med­i­ca­tion with ter­ri­ble side ef­fects.

We hope this ex­cite­ment; this bois­ter­ous mer­ri­ment does not cul­mi­nate into Shake­spearean Los­ing in Gain­ing. Ed­u­ca­tion­ists are thinkers. They need to be mind­ful of the point where the fly­ing ma­chine will fall as they cel­e­brate its aero-dy­nam­ics.

As we cel­e­brate mu­sic and its ben­e­fits in life, must we not con­cen­trate more on the think­ing than the danc­ing? Check care­fully and thought­fully what is go­ing on in these schools in the name of mu­sic and dance.

Of course chil­dren have both a per­sonal and demo­cratic right to en­joy mu­sic. But must we not ask ‘what kind of mu­sic? ‘What kind of dance?’ The ques­tions beg to be an­swered. We shall an­swer them soon. If I had my way, why would I would I ad­vo­cate mu­sic and crit­i­cal think­ing in­stead of mu­sic and dance? It de­vel­ops both ver­bal and au­di­tory mem­ory. It de­vel­ops lis­ten­ing flu­ency and ac­cu­racy.

In mu­sic, learn­ers in­te­grate on one hand, fun and en­joy­ment, but on the other, lis­ten­ing com­pre­hen­sion, read­ing com­pre­hen­sion, gram­mar, crit­i­cal think­ing and speak­ing skills.

In one word this is what 21st cen­tury lan­guage ed­u­ca­tion sci­en­tists call psy­cholin­guis­tics in mu­sic.

If half of the chil­dren who love mu­sic so much took a mo­ment to lis­ten care­fully and think crit­i­cally, at­tempt to un­der­stand, ex­plore the sense or lack of, the mean­ing, in­ten­tion and ‘lit­er­a­ture’ of songs, we would re­duce moral decay and abuse of drugs in the schools and away.

We would teach (ubun­thu/ hunhu) through mu­sic in­stead of use it as a soup with which im­moral­ity and ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity are en­joyed. We could use mu­sic to change mind­sets and at­ti­tudes to­wards life in a pos­i­tive way.

At the mo­ment mu­sic is used to poi­son the del­i­cate and sen­si­tive minds of our chil­dren, most of them learn­ers. It is used to ‘‘kill’’ them with­out car­ry­ing them to the morgues and ceme­ter­ies.

For heaven’s sake, let us teach our chil­dren to de­velop lis­ten­ing flu­ency but be able to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between sen­si­ble and non­sense mu­sic.

Granted there is dirty mu­sic all over the shore.

But there are many hy­gienic songs; well-writ­ten, well in­tended, healthy and fer­tile ground for crit­i­cal think­ing.

Next week, I will show you how much can be learnt from the song ‘‘Hello’’ by Adele. I will ex­hibit to you mu­sic and crit­i­cal think­ing, not mu­sic and dance.

Do not miss this one, es­pe­cially stu­dents of Lit­er­a­ture who strug­gle with their lit­er­ary ap­pre­ci­a­tion or prac­ti­cal crit­i­cism.

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