Rockstars & Teachers Unite!
This nation has shifted the focus of education towards check-box, multiple choice answers and away from creativity. Thankfully, there are warriors who continue to stand firm and empower youth to think.
The other night a few hundred people milled into a legendary venue in Tulsa, OK to learn about a new approach for engaging students. It was a gathering of people who may not normally come to a rock concert. It was likely that many in attendance had already worked a 10 hour day, and not the usual crowd lined up early to get choice seats to a show. Some may not even have heard of Steve VanZandt, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame musician, radio guru, actor, consigliere to Bruce Springsteen and much, much more until that night. Little Steven is no rookie to fighting for a good cause, back in the mid 80’s he banded musicians together to fight Apartheid.
Over a decade ago, some people reached out to him about the cutting of arts education with the onset of ‘No Child Left Behind’ and he took action. VanZandt started the Rock & Roll Forever Foundation and the Teach Rock curriculum to enhance K-12 education, not simply music, but a myriad of subjects. The Founders Board is made up of four R&R Hall of Fame musicians and an award winning film maker.
“THIS IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE YOU MAY BE USED TO — THIS IS A ROCK AND ROLL EXPERIENCE” -LITTLE STEVEN
The Tulsa appearance was part of the current tour by Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul through parts of the US where teachers have been on strike or threatened to strike. It offered an opportunity for teachers and those around education to learn about the curriculum absolutely free. As an adviser to a local university program, I was able to introduce one of our education majors and other students to this impactful program and musicians who inspires me.
As he took the stage pre-show to speak with the gathering of educators, Steven made a joke about meeting with Ted Kennedy and Mitch McConnell. He also explained why he felt connected to this mission and how this all came to be. The workshop is conducted by three former educators with decades of real life experience with students. They explain how some of the materials can be utilized, all in about an hours. All this is FREE and accessible for anyone who wants it!!
Then the musicians hit the stage…and there was Soulfire.
‘Soulfire’ is a collection of stuff I’ve done in the past. Each song is an element of who I am: There’s a doo-wop song on the album; a blues song, R&B and some jazz. For people who are going to be hearing me for the first time, it’s an introduction to who I am. ~Steven Van Zandt
As Little Steven says, there’s nothing like live music to soothe the soul. For the next 2+ hours these world class musicians lead us on a musical journey visiting some of Steve’s influences, inspirations and original music. Performed with heart and loving care, it didn’t matter to the rockers or the small, but passionate audience that it was a school night.
Little Steven says he’s interested in the interaction of groups of people who have a common goal. He has a big heart and much of that space is apparently taken up by the most under-appreciated, undervalued and underpaid of all, our teachers. Steve speaks about individuals, each contributing something unique, to make something greater than the sum of it’s parts. That night, as he’s done in all the concerts I’ve been privileged to attend, he gave 100% mind, body and soulfire.
Thank you for caring, and using your fame and talent for the betterment of all. For all of you in the path of this show, go, go, GO! Did I mention all the curriculum materials are FREE!?!?! USE IT! http://teachrock.org/
This is no time to be fighting each other
What we need, what we need is solidarity…Steve Van Zandt, Solidarity