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A Cure for the Common Cold

by Rekgotsofetse
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on Apr 25 in Reflection 2 Comments

Music Cures the Common Cold.

Yesterday I spoke in front of 30 people. Far from a large number but a number nonetheless, because sometimes you have to take what you can get. I remember while I was writing up my speech earlier in the day, I thought this could be either terribly ironic or extremely powerful if done right. I wanted to speak about student apathy, particularly student apathy in my institution.

Clearly, speaking in front of 30 people (which is a tiny drop from an expected crowd of 200) made the entire planned speech slightly ironic. In the moment, I decided to trash the speech and compare student apathy to the common cold. I started explaining how it spreads quickly and spreads without remorse. Infecting all those who come across its path with such ease and arrogance. It is passed on from person to person quite easily. In fact, you do not even have to touch a person to become infected. That person’s mere presence with the cold can leave an imprint on you.

Student apathy is like the common cold because even though most people know it is miserable, nothing of use will be gained from it and should be dealt with before it gets worse. Most people are willing to wait it out than to engage with it. Leave it be because it is going to be gone in a day or two anyway.Student apathy behaves just like the common cold. Infecting and spreading with most people deciding that it’s easier to deal with it than to tackle it head on. Instead of protecting yourself with any army of Pando’s, Disprins or Grandpa’s we ignore the problem and let it slide. Accept our fate and the hand dealt to us by society.

While speaking to the students about student apathy I noticed something quite profound. Instead of the yawns and sighs, I was expecting; they were listening. Not just listening but paying attention to every word that I was saying (or babbling depending on whose side of the fence you are on). I felt like the conductor of the orchestra swaying them left and right mentioning a phrase and watching them get excited. Moving my subject matter into the depths of my Apartheid knowledge, I lowered the tone of the room to a sombre harmony as I dealt with civil society’s rebellion against the system. How students should be able to mimic and ever better the civil movement of the 1980’s. When the symphony had died down and the violins had been packed away; trombones stored for the next chance to engage with people...the world ready to come back to the state it was in before the commotion. There was no applause, cheers, roses thrown onto the stage. There was no call for an encore from the crowd. All that was left behind once the music had gone were those same 30 people sitting in silence. As I took my seat and let the meeting continue. I felt pleased with what I had achieved. The message had been passed on. 30 people heard what I had to say and there was not a single sniffle to be heard from the crowd. No sneezing, coughing or heaving. The only sound coming from the room where the sounds of people tapping their feet to a beat.

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Sally Friday, 27 April 2012 · Edit Reply

Kgotsi, you chose a very effective analogy which clearly made sense to your audience. Yes, it's better to genuinely reach a small number than to speak to a mass that is not really engaged. You can be sure that those whom you touched will be catalysts on your behalf. Great that you could read the situation and be FLEXIBLE. Keep going and don't be disheartened! Sally

sally Thursday, 17 May 2012 · Edit Reply

I have actually commented on your blog before.......not sure where it has gone!
Your confidence to abandon your original script and respond to the situation facing you certainly paid off. You clearly had a message and a metaphor that your audience could relate to. You must have sparked some self-reflection and catalyzed change.

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