Saturday, April 2, 2016

Thinking with Tears

“You made me cry.” Always the best complement to a talk I give. And after my EARCOS Keynote speech this morning, many people came up—in tears— to let me know. Why do I take this as a complement?

At some point in my talk, I talked about art as the vehicle to explore the edges of the human experience. Entice or shove us out of our bland comfortable middle, bring us back to our
3-year old exuberance, our 1st grade curiosity, our 5th grade outrage that the world isn’t fair.
And the soundtrack to all of that is laughter and tears. And I mean real laughter, from the belly and not because a comedian made fun of someone. And real tears, the kind that doesn’t make us look good.

I started to worry after the talk that the actual ideas I was proposing got washed away in the tears, that emotion buried thought, that the heart shut down the mind. But I suspect the opposite. Because the ideas about music’s role in cultivating our humanitarian promise got linked up with things that moved us— a video of Middle School kids talking about what music means to them, another of them performing with such flair, musicality and spirit, another of granddaughter Zadie scat-singing while she paints, yet another of my Mom directing the drummer as we played “I Got Rhythm,” the letter I read from one of the alums talking about what those early music class experiences meant to her— because all of the abstractions about “music education is important” and “music should be taught in a humanitarian way to nourish humanitarian practices” were given weight and body and blood by these real-life examples, I suspect the ideas penetrated deeper into the recesses of memory.

And some people did say afterwards, “Your talk really made me think” or “Your talk helped me to remember what is important” or “Your talk was so refreshing because you never once used the current jargon or talked about ‘research indicates.’” Think, remember, resist conformity to the latest and greatest in education, cry, laugh— great complements all. The reviews are coming in about what I’m here to offer the world of education and I like them.

Shall I market it? THINKING WITH TEARS! The 21st Century Curriculum. Get yours now!

And bring a handkerchief.

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