Music listening and critical thinking: Teaching using a constructivist paradigm

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Daniel C. Johnson, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
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Abstract: Music, a universal human endeavor, offers a unique perspective on studying the humanities. Studying music combines the intellectual and emotional meaning listeners make from music, engaging them in aesthetically focused-activities. In this article, the benefits of teaching music using a methodology based on critical thinking are discussed. Additionally, the nature of critical thinking as an instructional methodology is explored from multiple perspectives. To elevate intellectual standards and to effect a qualitative change in thinking, critical thinking advocates have encouraged students to think for themselves by guiding students’ reflection on their own experiences, by developing listening as a critical thinking skill, and by asking probing questions. To reflect the fast-paced technological changes in contemporary society and education, teachers should impart thinking skills instead of mere information. As Whitehead suggested, the real goal of education is the development of thought processes instead of the accumulation of information. Constructivism, an approach emphasizing the meaning students create in the process of education, is also examined in terms of musical settings. While human beings are naturally predisposed to create meaning and construct concepts, particular ways in which we make sense of the world are learned. From constructivist paradigms to educational interventions, critical thinking is discussed as a movement based both on theory and applied techniques. Among the goals of this movement is the responsibility to educate independent thinkers and autonomous learners who actively make their own meaning of the world. Implications for understanding music, critical thinking, and the humanities in general conclude this paper.

Additional Information

Johnson, D. C. (2004, ). Music listening and critical thinking: Teaching using a constructivist paradigm. International Journal of the Humanities, 2(2), 1161-1169. Retrieved from Readers must contact Common Ground for permission to reproduce.
Language: English
Date: 2004
Music Listening, Critical Thinking, Constructivism, Education, Musical Perception
Musical perception
Critical thinking
Constructivism (Education)

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