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Monday, February 10, 2014

Wednesday Questions 2/12

Post your two questions here by Wednesday at noon!

17 comments:

  1. During the TED talk, Jose Antonio Abreu tells us that the effect of “El Sistema” is felt in three fundamental circles: “in the personal/social circle, in the family circle, and in the community circle.” Which of these areas do you believe is benefited most by this youth orchestra system and its belief in the “essentials of art?”

    I believe the notion that “pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy” is not a conception to be overlooked, yet a very insightful one. In addition to remaining optimistic in a world of negativism, what else can individuals do as “small acts” to transform the world one step at a time?

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  2. In the TED talk it covered the fact that the children who participated in the orchestra not only benefited themselves but their families and communities benefited as well. Could this be done on a smaller scale to help areas in the US that are not as well off, to grow and prosper?

    Reading The Optimism of Uncertainty I immediately thought of all of the pro-gay propaganda that is popping up all over the world because of the anti-gay laws in Russia. This is the first ever advertisement allowed to show in Norway during the olympics,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5pzhmGX1sk. I believe that the "small acts" like this and others that are on a less obvious scale need to be broad casted. I think that it would help others who are trying to achieve things without much of a voice to feel not so alone. Is there any way to get word out of the small things people are doing around the world?

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  3. To Rachel and Richard:

    “Much is mentioned in both the El Sistema TED talk and essay you provided, attributing its functional effectiveness (and the optimal effectiveness of all art) to an “ongoing tension between freedom and structure,” a “continual rediscovery of how to do things as they go,” and at the end of the day, a “flexible managing style.”

    However, my experience in the United States regarding music education (mostly observations from field placements and my own youth) demonstrates our practice of the exact opposite. I had routinely witnessed middle school band rooms so structured in style that lesson plans more resembled baking recipes than actual attempts to teach music.

    With pressure from school systems placed upon music educators to produce measureable results (one of many factors leading to this rigidity) is there any meaningful way to introduce the flexibility intended by Jose Antonio Abreu, to our existing public school music programs – in addition to – example setting extracurricular programs like El Sistema? Or perhaps, is there anything that folks in our position can do to affect those programs positively?

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  4. Questions for Marco and Steve:

    Is there anyway to know when becoming a thorn in the side of the thing you wish to change, begins to inhibit your ability to do so? Is it even ethically appropriate to think in this way?

    I ask because it seems that change is not only a game of chance, but also a game of monopoly: where one must follow the rules until they have accumulated the proper influence to act; to strike.

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  5. Rachel and Richard:

    During my time in the US educational system, being in the band or playing an instrument always had a stigma that pushed people away from participating in either of those extracurricular activities.How do you think we can go about changing this undeserved stigma so that more people will actually take pride in playing and instrument which will also improve their lives as a whole like Jose Antonio Abreu claims?

    Marco and Steve:

    I do not understand how people can have faith in technology but not the human race. We all know that we are going to continue to have technological advances but why can't we change something within ourselves which can in turn change our society /country/world? Obviously that is a very hard question to answer but do you have any ideas on how we can go about instilling faith back into people? How can we challenge to go against the grain and take that leap of faith and believe that one act can start a chain reaction? I don't know how many times I have had to try and convince someone that yes, they are only one person but that is really all it takes.

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  6. Rachel and Richard, Ted Talk:

    Obviously to uptake a task such as the one Jose Antonio Abreu took upon himself is a huge deal in any circumstance, and it is even more impressive when you take into account the location and age group he works with. Although I love this program, and I believe it has had a substantial effect on the youth of Venezuela, what makes the program a better option than, for example, a program to lower the poverty rate of families or provide a better education and/or increase the statistics of children who go on to receive higher education?

    Marco and Steve:

    In the Zinn reading, life is described as a "gamble" and it states that "not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning" (Par. 1). Although this is true in so many ways, shouldn't it be better to take a more cautious path in life sometimes? It may be more entertaining to live more carelessly, however, given the economy and current state of the world, playing it safe seems like a better bet when it comes to many aspects in life. Would you agree?

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  7. In “El Sistema’s Open Secrets,” Eric Booth writes: “In all big institutions, we create policies and practices to make things work; I have never seen an organization so ready to prioritize the needs of any given child over its standard way of doing business. There is an improvisational feel to the work, a pride in continual re-discovery of how to do things as they go.” I was struck by El Sistema’s willingness to endorse improvisation over predetermined structures, “a certain level of chaos” over strict order. And I have this question for Rachel: how often and how consciously do you make decisions in favor of improvisational responses to situations? Can you share a few examples with us?

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  8. In “The Optimisms of Uncertainty,” Howard Zinn stresses the tremendous power of working together to change the social and political world. He writes: “I try to tell each group that it is not alone, and that the very people who are disheartened by the absence of a national movement are themselves proof of the potential for such a movement. It is this change in consciousness that encourages me.” Like the author of “El Sistema’s Open Secrets,” Zinn singles out collaboration as an incredible tool for action. This emphasis on collaboration challenges U.S. ideals of individualism and competitiveness. Steve, can you talk about your experiences with collaborative action. What do you see as most important about it?

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  9. Rachel and Richard:
    I believe whole-heartedly with the stance Jose Antonio Abreu takes in his TED talk. I think music is such a vital part of who we are as people and how we grow as an individual. However, there is such a stigma around the idea of playing an instrument in a school band or orchestra. Kids think that it's uncool. I would love to see a program like Abreu's happen here in Lexington, but how could we goo about combating these stigmas?

    Steve and Marco:
    In the paper you had us read it talks a lot about how it doesn't take someone who has power to change the world and how important it is to collaborate with others who feel the same way you do. What could be done in our neighborhood to impact positive change in these ways?

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  10. Steve and Marco:
    I found this interesting "the very people who are disheartened by the absence of a national movement are themselves proof of the potential for such a movement." Are these people who are upset the ones that will start these movements, or is the people who watch others get disheartened by the lack of movement that rise up and change the standards and perspective?

    Rachel and Richard:
    With funding cuts occurring all over America (and I'm assuming other places?) for arts programs I would imagine it is even more difficult to fund arts programs that take place outside of school hours. How do we work to convince administrators, and other folks that music and the arts are a necessary education component with clear benefits? Are these people oblivious to the benefits that have been proven to come from having a strong music education?

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  11. Steve and Marco:
    I really enjoyed this piece. It really does inspire one to commit to acting out against what they know is wrong in order to make a difference towards something good. However, concerning the North Limestone neighborhood, from what we have learned from previous people, many residents do not feel a personal connection with their homes. They tend to move in and then soon later move out. How can we help improve the way people feel about their home in Lexington in order to keep them here and build a closer relationship with the community?

    Rachel and Richard:
    I actually have a friend who volunteered for a program similar to the one shown in the film. Younger, elementary-school age kids are given a strings instrument and volunteers come and help teach them how to play. It is a great after school program for families of low income. However, sometimes the kids would be disrespectful towards the instruments and the instructors. How can we change the kids to feel more passionately about music and the kinds of change it can bring to their lives?

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  12. For Rachel and Richard:
    In the TED talk, Jose Antonio Abreu mentions that music is not only able to help children develop a sense of hope and passion for something, but it even benefits their families and communities. Do you think it would be beneficial to have more programs like this in places in the U.S. in areas that are more impoverished, and if so what would be a good way to get more people involved?

    For Marco and Steve:
    In “The Optimism of Uncertainty”, Howard Zinn highlights significant periods of history where change has taken place, which shows that there is still hope for the world. He states that, “Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.” What would be some ways to show people that this is true and that there are reasons to be positive in what can be a negative world?

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  13. The author of “El Sistema’s Open Secrets” claims that “This is a deep truth of teaching: 80% of what you teach is who you are. Yes, curriculum and pedagogical practices are important, an important 20%. What finally counts the most is the person in the room, and not just the way she teaches, but the way she thinks, listens, responds, notices, formulates questions, reflects, dresses, plays, radiates energy, etc.” this proposition is simultaneously exhilarating and frightening. Indeed, Eric Booth calls the teachers of El Sistema leaders, people who don’t simply impart knowledge but also love and guide and help the children they teach. Rachel, you have been through training to become a certified El Sistema teacher. Did your training foreground this aspect of El Sistema? In other words, did you know you were being educated as a leader, not simply as a music teacher? What does this process look like?

    I am really interested in the notion of optimism that Zinn urges in “The Optimism of Uncertainty.” Zinn makes a point to explain that he is not calling for “blithe, slightly sappy whistler[s] in the dark of our time,” but rather for an understanding of human history as based on compassion, courage, and kindness. Still, I want to push this idea a bit further. Over the last few decades, American society has been inundated by books urging everyone to feel good and happy at all times. What are some of the key differences between optimism and happiness? Steve, what is your personal take on the American drive to happiness?

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  14. While I am a huge supporter of arts programs such as El Sistema and I understand how much children can gain from these programs, I am left wondering about issues of practicality. The way Jose Abreu discussed the program he made it sound like all of the children will find a career/ economic stability through this program. Is this truly a possibility? Could this program offer more than just involvement in music? How far exactly does this program stretch the music discipline from within. How exactly does it go about relating outside subject matter to provoke varied interest in these students?


    I loved the optimism of uncertainty essay, as a person pursuing a career in human rights this is what I keep telling myself daily. Whenever I learn of varying human circumstances around the world I am continuously humbled and become an even more compassionate individual. How can we encourage others to have this view? How do we encourage people to reflect on themselves and use these negative circumstances throughout history as an opportunity to examine their own beliefs and values?

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  15. Concerning the ted talk, is there a way to do this whole thing for kids who lack any significant performing art talent?

    How can the general population become more aware of the relatively small actions being taken by others to help the greater?

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  16. For Rachel and Richard:
    In the TED talk, the speaker said that at the first rehearsal, only 11 kids showed up. He was able to build up the orchestra to a much larger and more successful group. I have seen groups similar to this be formed in my own communities, but they never build up and eventually fall apart. What did this person do to make the orchestra appeal to the people of the community?

    For Marco and Steve:
    How can one convince the pessimists that the work being done is worth the while, even it does not change the world like the pessimists may be wanting?

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  17. (Rachel and Richard)

    I really enjoyed this video and I think it's extremely important. In eastern Kentucky where I'm from a lot of our music and other art programs have been and or are in the process of being cut. What are good ways to change this and make people more aware of the importance of art programs?

    (Steve and Marco)
    I agree with this article completely. I think apathy is our worst enemy. Sadly I know a lot of people who don't see the point in activism. Even with the historical evidence of how being involved has helped shape the world. Some of them I think it's due to them believing certain issues do not effect them. How can we get people more inspired and out of this deep dark apathetic zone?

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