Wednesday, November 13, 2019

My Favorite Author

My  old piano teacher Art Lande once told me that before he plays a concert, he imagines himself in the audience listening to the music that sings out exactly what he wants and needs to hear. Many authors have confessed—me amongst them—that they want to write the kind of book they would like to read. Makes sense, yes?

So I was very pleased when someone posted on Facebook a small section from a book I wrote 13 years ago and I read my own words and thought, “Yeah!” They were timely, articulate and said exactly what I wanted to say and exactly what I wanted to hear again. 

And so here they are. (And thanks to Ki Adams for both posting and including this book in his college classes!):

Is it a coincidence that, on the day the USA Presidential impeachment hearings are beginning, my Orientation to Music Education class is reading the chapter on Truth in Doug Goodkin's extraordinary book, “The ABCs of Education: A Primer for Schools to Come”? 

“I believe that this [agreeing to discuss things that are often kept hushed and secretive] is what the Founding Fathers had in mind by granting free speech. They paid people the compliment of being mature enough to discuss, weigh, consider, debate, and ultimately come to their own conclusions. Cloaking things in silence, refusing to discuss certain topics, wrapping information in glitzy, misleading pamphlets, presenting just one official version of the facts—these are the tools of tyranny, however cleverly disguised.”

Goodkin goes on to suggest a series of simple steps that might help lead all of us—teachers, students, and citizens—back to a healthy public discourse:

1. Offer a variety of diverse sources. Where do stories agree and where do they differ? Reading one story from various perspectives provides a larger view that helps us ferret out the key questions and points of controversy.

2. Analyze whether a given source has a stake in how the story gets presented. Who profits? Will the pamphlet written by the corporation give a fair and unbiased view of corporate practice? Will an investigative committee made up of members of the institution being criticized give a fair and unbiased report?

3. Hear the accounts from the powerless and marginalized players in the stories—the people often most directly affected by an event or a policy, whose stake in the story is not profit, but survival. What does the philosophy of Manifest Destiny look like to a Native American?

4. Bring caring into the discussion. Who is hurt and harmed by this event? What values are driving this action?

5. Bring citizenship into the discussion. What is my obligation once I know more about what really happened? How much should I speak out about this? What action might I take?

Good advice for us all… wherever we reside in the world. In the meantime, I strongly urge anyone involved in education in any form/level to read this book. "Open the windows and let this wise, simple, heartfelt reminder reawaken the beauty in education." (Jack Kornfield, Buddhist teacher and author of "A Path with Heart")

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