Music as Pedagogy of Kindness

When I first read Cate Denial’s piece on Pedagogy of Kindness, I began to think about different ways ‘kind spaces’ can be nurtured in my classroom. I dissected ‘kindness’ and realized that I often find myself in kind spaces when I am being listened to and as a BIPOC educator, my culture and heritage is being displayed in a creative and critical fashion as opposed to the usual superficial ways.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges for educators and students, and I decided that an effective way to encourage communication and connection in an asynchronous setting is to create a space where students can share more about themselves and their culture. In an asynchronous learning environment, engaging students meaningfully and getting them to ‘care’ is no easy task. The post-pandemic online asynchronous learning environment is filled with students who are bearing the mental and psychological toll of losing connection to school and dealing with various mental health challenges as a result of social distancing and financial concerns. To encourage a sense of community and connectedness, I deliberately disclosed personal details about myself and my background. I wanted an opportunity to go on a journey with my students back to where they call ‘home’. And what better way than to invite students to share music they love!  

For those of us venturing into online learning education for the first time, sharing music and songs in different languages can be seen as a form of storytelling that taps into students’ varied cultural experiences and lived histories and builds bonds that cannot be easily broken. To make this online experience more exciting, I recommended posting a music video from different parts of the word each week in the Newsfeed section on the course shell. I would even do some research to see what are popular songs from the countries the students are from and introduce some myself. When I received emails from students thanking me for ‘representing’ them in this way, I knew I was doing something right. I even had instances where students would play a musical instrument in their small rooms, record it, and send it to me to be published for everyone to see. These experiences helped nurture student motivation and engaged us in a form of dialogue with one another rooted in respect, appreciation, and acknowledgement of diversity. While not all educators may be as musically inclined, every educator can find their unique way to help lift students’ spirits at times of great uncertainty.  

What to ask or request from students
Introduce a song or musical piece that is significant to you.  
If the song does not have English subtitles, tell us what it’s about. 
Why do you love this song/musical piece? 

Below are some of the songs the students have recommended this semester: