17 SES 12, Educational Soundscapes: Sounds and Silences in the History of Education
During the mid-twentieth century, leisure increasingly became an object of study in many European languages. Focusing on youth issues, these studies paid in particular attention to what was said to be the first generation raised by mass-media, namely the teenagers of that time. In this presentation the many inquiries led by Belgian pedagogues, psychologists, educators and social workers from 1955 to 1965 with regard to the way young people interacted with mass-media will be analyzed. One of the intriguing findings from a preliminary analysis of this data is that cinema and dancing were said to be the youth’s favorite leisure activities. Contemporary critics time and again emphasized that these leisure activities were to be considered the most dangerous ones. Radio, for example, emerges from these inquiries both as public enemy number one (looked at it from the side of those who analyzed the inquiries) as well as a close ‘companion’ (looked at from the side of the teenagers). In this presentation I first of all will map out the way the sound of the radio was listened to. The different positions with respect to whether the sound could not or precisely needed to be accepted as being part of youth culture will enable me to contribute to the history of silence, and how this history cannot be disconnected from the history of education. Focusing on the special word one invented for the new lifestyle of the teenagers, namely “radiorrhea”, I’ll demonstrate how questionnaires can be said to be powerful instruments filled with sound and music. In the presentation I furthermore will argue that the radio in particular and sound in general cannot be disconnected from the emergence of what since then has been termed (at least in Belgium) a “pedagogy of leisure”.
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