Posted by: Reginald Cyntje | December 14, 2014

Learning: A Two-Way Street

I listened and learned about their views on music and life.

“Professor Cyntje, what are your thoughts on this situation?” I replied, “tell me what you think.”

At first, I was greeted with a puzzled look. So I explained that I feel teachers should foster critical thinking. In a classroom setting, I don’t think students should memorize and regurgitate the “right” answers but truly understand the text and analyze the information. Too often there is someone in front the room lecturing on their thoughts as the students sit and listen (check out) while taking notes.

Like music, learning is a part of communication. Listening and sharing is a two-way street that leads to discovery.

I turned to another student. “Do you agree with the information? Is the author biased?” The student stated their opinion and communication blossomed.

Through discussion each student learned about each other, music and life. The lessons from history became our launching pad for new ideas. Together we saw that there is a deep connection between art and historical events.

When we arrived at the 60s, I asked “How are artists today different from artists in the 60s?” Different students gave their perspectives before I spoke about the activist spirit that made the 60s a turbulent era. I asked them if they feel artists today should do more to speak out about injustice.

We saw that police brutality was not a new concept. From the Civil Rights Movement to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, students saw videos of injustice.

They expressed their concerns and I listened.

The goal was not to tell them what to think but to encourage them to ask critical questions.

Is payola still taking place? Is big business controlling the music industry? Who created the top 40? Who created the labels (soft rock, urban, etc.)? Why? Are mainstream artists puppets? Is race still a factor? Who is telling radio stations what to play? Why? Should listeners support Spotify? What should we learn from history? Are we listening?

One student said, “I want to do more to create change but I don’t know how.” I replied, “start small.”

In the end, I hope I inspired critical thinking. In the process, I think an activist was born.



  1. Reblogged this on DaraMonifah's #VInice Blog | A Grassroots Perspective of V.I. Culture, People, Places and More and commented:
    Birthing activists through inspiring critical thinking… makes sense to me!

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