Morris Mtisi Education Correspondent
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.