Posted by: Barinas | August 28, 2012

Dancing Techno In the Classroom

Who likes techno music?  Dubstep anyone?  No, I am not looking to throw away all the cellos and trumpets for Macs and turntables.  But humor me for a second.  Think about technomusic.  It is about using technology to create new sounds and rhythms through digital software.

Not everyone is into it, of course.  Some people would prefer to stick to a good ol’ Bing Crosby tune no matter how many people tell them that Moby is da bomb.  But if you happen to be visiting London and some bloke invites you to a club where people are grooving to techno, I don’t think they will want you to walk over the DJ and hand him a copy of your Cosby record.  They got nothing against smooth-singing Bing.  They may be enamored with the song White Christmas, but that’s just not their thing right now.  They grew up in techno, and that’s the music they came to dance.

Sure, you can get testy a la George Costanza and push it by telling the DJ that if he doesn’t play your Crosby, you’ll publish on Facebook all his pictures as a zit-popping violin kid in his high school band, the Yoodley Yoodlers.  “Whoa, not cool bro” he says and meets your wishes.  People will not necessarily hate the music, start a riot, and have the DJ for dinner, but they will certainly stop dancing.

So what does this all mean?  First of all, no bribing of Deejays.  OK, seriously, if you are a teacher who is not in tune with what your students are using, liking, and integrating to their everyday lives, you can probably make them learn, but you won’t make them dance.  They won’t be excited, which is quite a disadvantage, knowing how we all learn more when we are really excited about it.  So there you have it folks: I have to dance techno.  I got to learn the steps, the nuances, and the culture.  I need to be in their world.

Like learning a dance move, I know that there are going to be a few missteps here and there.  It’s part of the learning curve and unless you are Fred Astaire, we have our two-left-feet moments once in a while.  But the great thing about it is that if you like the music, your body will follow.  That’s all it takes.  I like technology, so I feel I have a good head start.  Interest is the catalyst.  And if students see that I truly enjoy the technological facets of their everyday lives, then I’m sure they’ll be more open and receptive to what I have to say.   I won’t be this alien from outer space that wants to teach them “stuff for school”.  They can learn to the beat of technology, more precisely, their technology.  Kids love tech, so I want to make them  say, “we are going to school, so we can dance some tech”.  And that will be music to my ears.

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Responses

  1. Great analogy! We all want to get into the worlds, and heads of our students. I’m not so sure I’m up for techno music though. Give me Bing and day!!

    • LOL! I’m totally with you. We want to do “techno”, but without forgetting the virtues of the old-school classics, like Bing. It’s good that we see the qualities of the past not as “expired” but more so as “classics”. I think our tech-immersed students will greatly enjoy seeing us add a little Bing to their techno ways 🙂

  2. Wow… there is so much to unpack in this post! Culture shifts, generational nostalgia, joy of learning and in participation, relevance, meaning, engagement,… A critical part here is that we want our students to “dance”… and find joy, meaning, engagement,… in “the dance”. This doesn’t mean that they can’t learn about things of the past… it only means that we, as teachers, are charged with making that learning meaningful, relevant,… powerful. This won’t always require the latest learning tools and technologies, but it certainly cannot be achieved without them any more. A big obstacle to all of this is that teachers need to experience all of this – even if it is not their preferred style of learning or their preferred tools for learning. Professionally, we simply cannot simply choose to ignore all of this… or do it lip service. We teach because we have students who need to learn… and that can (and should) look vastly different to the learning of yesteryear.

    So, a huge challenge for many teachers is to begin shifting how THEY themselves learn – create, collaborate, share, network, communicate, access information,… and this includes the education leaders who set policy, allow or deny access to tools and information, and more.

    I may not be all that keen on”techno music” (or whatever the parallel might be), but I have a responsibility to know about it, understand it, and acknowledge it as important to my students while looking for ways to leverage their interest and proclivities toward it.

    To ignore such is simply professional malpractice, isn’t it?

    Great start! I look forward to reading more!

  3. I have a hard time relating with people who struggle with having an open mind (especially musically). It’s like traveling to New Orleans and instead of eating jambalaya, because you’re afraid to try new things, you find yourself in a BK ordering the faithful number 5 meal with extra catsup. For me, one of the main ways to grow as a person is to experience new things, and yes, many times this means I must step outside of my comfort zone. I may not dig Skrillex (which I do) but I’ll sure as hell give it a try. Now, as far as technology is concerned, I believe it is an almost self-centered decision for educators not to implement technology due to fear of change and heavy-handed faith of old-fashioned classroom pedagogy. It’s not all about “YOU” Mr and Mrs. Old-School, it’s about the students and how to keep them engaged.

    • I totally agree Todd. Educators should step out of their comfort zones. I think that one of the coolest things about being a teacher is that unlike most other professions, we are interacting with the younger generation, so we can stay abreast with the latest trends and subcultures that are taking place. That doesn’t necessarily makes us “hip”, but we are presented with an opportunity that we should embrace rather than wall off. Still, I think the biggest challenge lies not on educators’ intentions, but on the wise allocation of our public resources and training, so that our school districts have the both finances and the know-how to implement technological advancements across the board (or at least as much as possible), rather than confine it to a few privileged districts.


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