Happy New Year friends!

boston new years

Photo thanks to Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe

2014 begins for us with a new radio show on WBUR. Call it a Boston conversation with global attitude. On Thursday nights (and rebroadcast on Sunday afternoons) we’ll remind you why Boston has been the capital of ideas in America since the heyday of Emerson and Thoreau in the 1840′s. Our first show, on January 2nd at 9pm, is about music education. We’ll begin with a look at an elementary school in Brighton, Massachusetts where every child, Pre K to 8th grade – makes music for three-and-a-half hours every day. The driving idea, spreading worldwide from Venezuela, is that every child wants to play an instrument and can. With musicians, a cognitive and development theorist and Howard Gardener from the Harvard Ed School, we’ll explore new ways to teach music and maybe new ways to organize schools. You can listen live on 90.9 or stream the show at wbur.org. We’ll have a podcast up on our site after the show.

Next up, on January 9th, is a conversation about the Pope Francis phenomenon with James Carroll who writes in the New Yorker that he’s a radical, not a liberal. We’ll examine the “conversion of the papacy” and what seems like a new Catholic conversation.

We have two other shows in the works: one on health care on January 16th with Dr. Thomas Lee of Mass General Hospital who’s written a book called “The Rise of Modern Medicine,” which is a history lesson of a kind about Boston medicine, and on January 23rd we’ll take a tour of the novelist David Foster Wallace’s Boston. Did you know that “Infinite Jest” is a Boston novel the way Ulysses is a Dublin novel?

As always, we’re looking for help in the planning of these shows, and we’re looking for ways to engage in conversation with you both on the air and on our website. We’ve remodeled things a bit at radioopensource.org, and we’ve added a couple of features. On the Veranda is a porch of sorts where you can share links, angles, ideas and digressions. On the top of our site we’ll feature a photo of the day, maybe a Boston vista or just a great snapshot. Send them to us, and we will reward you immeasurably.

Our show is weekly, which leaves time for podcast conversations and experiments. We’ve been reading (and recording) Chekhov stories in Chris’ living room and trying to learn WordPress. Ryan Cataloni, one of our new Emerson College friends, has given us a new look.  Keep an eye out for the work of the young filmmakers Coop Vacheron and Loni Paone, also from Emerson, and make sure and welcome our intern, Kunal Jasty.

 


Comments

4 thoughts on “Happy New Year friends!

  1. What a marvelous subject and dialogue for the ‘maiden voyage’ of “Open Source” on WBUR! Lawrence Scripp and Howard Gardner were eloquent, thoughtful, enlightening. I think Howard made an important observation that other motivational endeavors – painting, drama, architecture, chess, etc. – might serve an equivalent purpose in inspiring individual and social integration, though music has been called the universal language that transcends all languages. Perhaps, and I have bias to it. But personality as well genetic aptitude, I think, contribute largely to individual inclination/appreciation of any given art, science, endeavor. So personality theory has been, in general, I believe, overlooked as a critical piece of educational theory. I think Howard’s appeal for a catholic approach to integrating individual/social development is essential. But what the arts contribute to individual/social development are not easily to be found elsewhere: imagination, perception, melody, harmony, rhythm, pattern, “educated emotion” — Meaning. And Value. Yes, one may find these things in other endeavors such as chess. But they are never so explicit and immersive as in the arts. And, I would say, as in music. Which, if one is able to “feel” it, engages the mind, body and spirit completely — intellectually, emotionally, physically. Both Einstein & Heisenberg stressed that everything is “frequency.” Produce the right frequency and one obtains the desired reality. Music can, through the patterned frequencies, rhythms, harmonies produce in us ideal states of feeling and harmonious integration/congruence which can serve to model harmonious thought, feeling, action. The catharsis Aristotle spoke of in discussing a theory of Tragedy, wherein we come to identify with the tragic hero. Come to learn what is true, beautiful, right and good — even though always achieving it is an ideal we cannot hope to sustain. All good art teaches us “arete” – excellence – through the harmonious integration of our developed senses, sensibilities. Children have imagination, a sense of wonder, possibility. We must preserve and nurture these in every possible way. If we educate only to achieve economic prosperity we lose sight of the true goal of a classic liberal education in service of the larger good — an harmoniously integrated individual and society. That education never ends, but must be nurtured early on to have hope of development. The arts are essential to an harmonious – and I would say virtuous – society. Or the effort toward perfecting one. No guarantee. But if the connection between the Arts & Virtue were made we might stand a better chance. I think so. Mortimer Adler would agree, and his Great Treasury of Western Thought made much of it. But we need also to incorporate what we know of personality theory/individual aptitudes to structure education to nurture all individuals. Through development of their natural inclinations/strengths. Two such efforts of which I am aware are the Myers-Briggs Temperament (Personality) Sorter – developed from theories of Carl Jung and others – and the Johnson O’Connor Psychometric Aptitude Batteries. The latter have isolated and identified numerous valid aptitudes and personality traits which must be developed and employed for personal satisfaction, fulfillment. If we can fulfill individual aspirations, our chances for a more harmonious society are that much greater. I consider all the above essential components of effective education and we need to find a way to implement them. And they must be done as early as possible while young hearts, minds and spirits are open, imaginations full of wonder, possibility and promise. The El Sistema inspiration is an exercise in such possibility and promise. I hope we hear much more in future on it, and from Lawrence Scripp and Howard Gardner. Such an important subject, the future of the world in our children. And in how we do or do not properly provide for their complete development as fully human “beings.”

  2. I forgot to add that Benjamin Zander, in his efforts with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and its young players, has for years been inspiring imagination, possibility and promise through great music. I should think a collaboration between Messrs. Scripp and Zander would be inspirational and fruitful. I hope for it!

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