Michal Music Researcher

Opening black boxes

Please find the second comment from guestblogger Michal Zawadzki:

With the popular metaphor developed by Bruno Latour, one could say that neoliberalization of the contemporary academia too often brings down lecture halls in the universities and business schools to the level of ‘black boxes’: discourses closed to criticism, where interpretations of the reality authoritatively imposed by the teacher are reproduced. This situation stays in contradiction to the cultural mission of the university: university is an institution with the potential for opposition, whose mission includes cultural democratization of social life, social solidarity and critical reflexivity. Preparing students for the role of critical citizens is the basic function of higher education. Teaching and learning at a university constitute a border space that should enable students to confront ethically and politically the connecting tissue of experience and thought, theory and praxis, ideas and public life.

This possibility is given by the project “Organizing Rocks” and its use in the classrooms. Both me and my students from the Institute of Culture in Krakow are impressed by the musical layer of this project: the songs composed by Johan and Tommy, and played and sung by Tommy (and a few others) which allow you to understand the twists and turns of management and work processes. Within the blues “Kiruna you maggot” we are able to understand the specificity of life in the Swedish Kiruna and work in the local mine: dangerous mountains, harsh climate, loneliness and hard work are complemented here with the beauty of the aurora and blue lakes. A song “What local people? Us local people” gives us the possibility to empathize with the situation of indigenous people of Kiruna: nomads from the north coping with the problems of globalization and commodification of the local goods. A hard rock track “We the north” – so far my favourite one, especially because of the great repetitive guitar riff – also reveals the mentality of the people from the north: cordial, but aloof inhabitants from the mountains.

“Organizing rocks” is a great resource for the teaching courses in management and gives the possibility to open the “black boxes”. As one of the students attending my bachelor seminar, Monika, observes:

“Organizing Rocks” is the one of the most interesting projects which I have met recently. This is a fantastic way to share scientific research results. Through music, we can reach a wider audience and publicize important aspects of academical issues. Thick volumes written in difficult language discourage, so the rock music is a great alternative. I hope that this project will develop and maybe will be picked up by other scientists. Aspects of quantum mechanics singing with growl in accompaniment of heavy guitars? Why not!”

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