A common definition of listening distinguishes between hearing and listening. The basic distinction describes hearing as a passive action of perceiving sounds, whereas listening involves paying active attention to various layers and elements of what one is hearing. Active listening to music, featuring the discerning of sounds, musical structures, harmonies, and the interrelations between the sounds, is akin to contemplating complex ideas. Providing meaning for this nexus of relationships requires listeners to grapple with these complex musical nuances, listening to different layers of the melody and harmony and connecting them to cultural and historical aspects. Challenging students to grapple with the complex nuances of musical pieces, to listen to different layers of the melody and harmony, and to connect those elements to cultural and historical aspects will provide them the opportunity to reflect upon the social and cultural contexts in which they live. The concept of what it means to be active (or mindful) has been examined from various perspectives and theories and holds great potential in advancing individual growth and social sensitivity.
Key arguments regarding the relationship between postcolonial art and aesthetics and the emancipatory imagination have implications for pedagogical and curriculum reform in the era of globalization. Postcolonial art, aesthetics, and postcolonial imagination are, and invoke paths through and exceeding, dominant traditions of thought in critical thinking on the status of art. These dominant critical traditions have led us to what Cameron McCarthy calls the “forked road” of cultural Marxism and neo-Marxism: the antipopulism of the Frankfurt School and Habermas and their contemporary affiliates versus the populism of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies and those insisting on the nearly virtuous engagement of the First World working classes with contemporary consumer culture. These approaches have tended, McCarthy maintains, to generate critical apparati that silence the historically specific work of the colonized inhabitants of the Third World and the periphery of the First. In beckoning curriculum and pedagogical actors in a different direction, toward postcolonial art and aesthetics, McCarthy argues that the work of the postcolonial imagination dynamically engages with systems of domination, authority over knowledge, and representation, destabilizing received traditions of identity, association, and feeling, and offering, in turn, new starting points for affiliation and community that draw on the wellspring of humanity, indigenous and commodified. Key motifs of postcolonial art (literature, performance art, sculpture, and painting) illuminate organizing categories or new aesthetic genres: counter-hegemonic representation, double or triple coding, and utopic and emancipatory visions. These ethically informed dimensions of postcolonial art and aesthetics constitute critical starting points, or tools of conviviality, for a conversation over curriculum change in the tumult of globalization and the reassertion in some quarters of a feral nationalism.