The Learning Jukebox

In a Town Without a Name, In a Heavy Downpour

I recently took my mom to her hand surgery in the wee hours of the morning. She had to check in at 6:30 a.m., and we were an hour and a half away. As I drove her car before the sun or chickens were up, her CD (Yes, CD. Mom doesn’t have an aux cord or Spotify) player plus copious amounts of caffeine helped me stay awake. As we listened to the songs of her childhood, I began thinking about our eclectic taste in music and how it evolves as we grow older. And as I pondered this and avoided the deer emerging from the trees to cross the road, I thought about how we are often unwilling to be eclectic and let our mindset, tools, and strategies evolve in education. The songs played on as I thought and and navigated the back roads.

Thought He Passed His Own Shadow, By the Backstage Door

The first CD we played was Various-Roots of Country Music, which includes songs from Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Roy Clark, and more. Mom only had disc 2 with her, so once it finished, she dug out her Elvis: Ultimate Gospel CD and let it play. The differences in the two CDS had my tired brain thinking. Her music from her childhood, teenage years, adult years, and now retirement years has changed, though she still enjoys many of the older songs.

Like a Trip Through the Past, to That Day in the Rain

I thought about the songs from my childhood, which included some from her CD since she played music in our house, but also some of Dad’s favorites, like Marty Robbins, and various gospel artists. When I turned 12, one of my birthday presents was a radio, (yes, I’m old) which opened the door for me to choose my own music, so naturally, I went the opposite direction of my parents and dove into rock (now classic rock), and heavy metal. I still enjoy those, but I also still love Marty Robbins, and since I sing in a local contemporary Christian band, I have new artists and styles to appreciate.

And That One Guitar, Made His Whole Life Change

Like usual, my thoughts spun toward education. For most of us, we accept that our taste in music changes. We may resist new songs and artists at first, but then we dive right in and love it. Music threads it’s way into our lives and evolves for us as we grow older. It’s personal. So why can’t we do that in education? Why is it so hard to accept the changes as we grow, as the field of education grows and evolves? Why do we try to cling to the educational songs of the past and deny the new artists and songs? As with food, we are open to trying (listening to) new music and new albums by our favorite artists, but we are skeptical and hesitant or militant when it comes to doing the same in education.

Now He Needs to Keep on Rockin’, He Just Can’t Stop

The moment I left my island and opened my eyes (ears) to the new sounds of education came in the fall of 2016 at a tech conference I now present at/attend regularly. It was a tune played by John Spencer, talking about the book Launch, that he co-authored with A.J. Juliani and design thinking. That was the conference where I heard the educational music playing, finally, about how to use Twitter to connect with educators, and how to actually connect with the educators at conferences. Huh. For this change, I needed a jukebox, or for the modern crowd, a playlist. My educational repertoire needed new songs and artists for inspiration, and being a connected educator was one way to help do that. My learning jukebox (playlist) needed to accommodate the new hits being released and still retain some of the older practices and thoughts. An eclectic (agnostic) selection of educational strategies, mindset, and tools.

Gotta Keep on Rockin’, That Boy Has Got to Stay on Top

Our students are not growing up in the same world we did. Yes, there are some skills that remain the same, but there are more that students need now that we didn’t dream of in our childhood or teenage years. Just as musicians seek to be innovative and creative, so must we be as we guide students toward their futures. Let your learning jukebox get an update. Evaluate the songs that you have, and take out what doesn’t work for the students you have today. If the Battle of New Orleans still works for your students, keep it. But don’t forget to also add those new chart busting tools and strategies that are really helping students reach farther than they thought they could. Than you thought they could. Evaluate all of it. Keep updating that learning jukebox collection as more new and innovative educational music emerges. We all must keep on rockin’. Our students deserve it.

Heading titles are from partial lyrics from Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero.

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