...lastly and most importantly, I believe, music and music education help develop a child’s sense of being, her consciousness, her ‘self.’ Madeleine L’Engle, who is best known as the award-winning author of A Wrinkle in Time, believes that one of the greatest responsibilities of educators is “to give the child a self.” Instead, educators, parents, coaches, administrators, and counselors often struggle to give them something drastically different (and I would argue, inferior), a ‘self-image.’ Is our culture’s preoccupation with giving children a ‘self-image’ a good idea?
By giving a child a self instead, we are not giving them “something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming. Being does mean becoming.” (Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet)
This concept of ‘becoming,’ of having a self, of consciousness is a defining human capability. Overcoming the selfish self, the self-image, means that we are becoming more real, more human, more loving. We become more conscious and less self-conscious. Consciousness is authentic sensitivity, awareness of being. Self-consciousness is superficial, affected, and selfish. L’Engle explores this truth and its connection to creativity in A Circle of Quiet (one of my favorites of her non-fiction), “So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves.”