Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free Flowing Thoughts from Week 4

I always feel answering questions is tougher than asking pertinent questions, because most of the time there are several answers that could be "correct." When I was younger I used to believe the world was very clear in terms of right and wrong, black and white, but I've felt myself transitioning to the concept that the world is not black and white - it's filled with vibrant varying shades of gray.

This program is essentially helping us prepare for the task of changing the world with complex orchestral (or large ensemble) music. But in so preparing us for this insurmountable task, so many questions arise...

So what tools will we really need to embark on this journey? Is there only one way? Are there a set of tools/methods that can be applied? What kind of scale and scope should be applied? What would be the best initial target populations? What factors are there to consider for the target populations? Are there comparable programs existing that have the aforementioned goal in mind? Where would can the target population be found? How much planning can be done for all of the variables that could throw a wrench in the wheel? Where will the funding come from? How will an organization like this be viewed by the community and/or existing organizations? What resources are currently available? What other organizations could also be vested in a program like this? What pedagogical techniques will be the most effective for working with this target population?

All these questions are important, and all of which are incredibly difficult to answer. But as the saying goes, "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step." (Side story: This was actually a quote on the wall of my 5th grade class, which was ultimately given to me at the end of that academic year, because my teacher thought I had made huge progress with my overall attention span and focus. Case in point? Side stories.)

So which direction should that first step be in?

Much like in the style of Socrates, I feel the best answer is found by responding with more questions. Unlike Socrates, I will be writing these questions myself, as opposed to having Plato do it for me.

If we take a step back to grade school and what we learned about learning how to do critical reading and the "5 W's," i.e., who, what, when, where, why, I think we might be able to start this journey much more effectively, despite the fact that each of these questions are screaming with follow up questions.
- Who are you targeting?
- What are you trying to provide/do?
- When do you want this to start? When will these services occur and how often?
- Where is the target market and where will you provide these services?
- Why are you forming this organization to work provide these services to this target population?

For people who are involved with this overall El Sistema movement in the U.S.A., I think we all generally feel confident about addressing the why aspect of this question set. (Which is somewhat ironic considering that is traditionally the most difficult question to answer). Conversely, I am having a much more difficult time actually selecting where and who. The potential of an El Sistema program is immense, and I find myself looking at every group from the fringes of society as a population that could be significantly transformed. Foster children. Juvenile delinquents. Prisoners to be released from penitentiary. Deaf and hard of hearing. Blind. People living in townships. Autistic. Inner city children. Rural children. De facto segregated communities. etc. The list in my mind just gets longer and longer.

Bearing in mind the statistics regarding the success rate of start-ups and new programs (along the lines of 80% failure rate for entrepreneur programs), I simultaneously don't want to create a program that will not be capable of having a sustainable long term developmental effect on a community.

And on that note, I will let these thoughts simmer, and should probably get some rest.

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