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Deconstructing songs and pedagogy

Posted on: December 28, 2016

It is post-Christmas, so how sick are you of this now classic song?


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Perhaps James Corden and his carpool karaoke gang will turn a bah-humbug moment into a smile.


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People with keen and critical ears have probably been deconstructing music since the first note was played. So this deconstruction and analysis of Mariah Carey’s now iconic All I Want for Christmas should be ordinarily wonderful.


Video source

Reduced to a core, deconstruction is essentially pattern spotting and analysis. When applied to something as complex as music, the patterns of what makes a Christmas song catchy and successful might be identified and replicated.

So why do we not do this with pedagogy?

Make no mistake: I am not suggesting so-called “best practices” of teaching because contexts are different. But surely some practices are better than others.

Music can be analysed, critiqued, and modelled because it is shared openly and discussed widely. Practically anyone can appreciate music and could develop some form of expertise in it.

Pedagogy, on the other hand, is more mysterious and poorly understood. The science and art of teaching practices tend to be closed-off affairs. Teachers, instructors, lecturers, and professors do not generally welcome their peers to their classrooms unless it is appraisal time. Appraisals are to judge and value, not to deconstruct, reconstruct, and learn from.

With the exception of some places, most teachers do not need to renew their licenses to teach. As a result, there is little impetus to be challenged, to stay up-to-date, and to change.

We know what we have to change, but we resist because tradition, ego, policies, and whatever we can throw in the way gets in the way.

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