Creating a "Method of Thinking"
This week I had an enlightening conversation with Prof. Abraham, the professor for Greatness in Music. He told me he believes his class is not about “learning a specific theory or history or even a single topic, it’s about using music as a vehicle to learn about critical judgment and aesthetic theory.” Does this ring a bell? Well, if you read the comments from last week’s post, something should light up; “An American from Cairo” argued that for him, general education classes are “the initiators of a method of thinking that should continue throughout one’s life.”, and I agree that this too is part of what a general education encompasses.
Through the Greatness in Music course, students are able to develop independent thought. They are stripped away from preformed opinions caused by experience, tastes and influence from others, until they can form their own judgment of what is “good” and “bad”. After taking this class, students will not only know about music itself, but will think about values in a different way and will posses critical thinking capabilities.
In order to reach this goal, Prof. Abraham has his students read an article every week, whether about aesthetic theory, cognitive education theory or ethnomusicology, and generate a reader’s response that will be discussed during class. In this discussion, students learn to recognize the effect of society on their opinions, and are able to get rid of them to create their own judgment. They are also able to reach these conclusions by studying the language of criticism. By looking at reviews students identify how language is used to express a judgment value. They later apply this to their own critique reviews, which they have to create based on a performance they saw, where they can fully comprehend how a critique affects people’s opinions on what is determined as “good” or “bad”.
Because of the approach to the class, there is no assigned text for it, and most of the classes are characterized by discussion and dialogue amongst the students. This allows students to be independent thinkers while also considering other’s points of view.
Therefore, I believe general education is both to create “a method of thinking” as “An American in Cairo” said, and to make us “informed citizens of the world”, as Prof. Nadell said.