sponsored links
TED@NYC

Christopher Emdin: Teach teachers how to create magic

October 8, 2013

What do rap shows, barbershop banter and Sunday services have in common? As Christopher Emdin says, they all hold the secret magic to enthrall and teach at the same time — and it’s a skill we often don't teach to educators. A longtime teacher himself, now a science advocate and cofounder of Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. with the GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, Emdin offers a vision to make the classroom come alive.

Christopher Emdin - Education pioneer
Christopher Emdin is a science advocate who uses hip-hop to make better teachers. Full bio

sponsored links
Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Right now
00:12
there is an aspiring teacher
00:14
who is working on a 60-page paper
00:17
based on some age-old education theory
00:21
developed by some dead education professor
00:24
wondering to herself what this task
00:28
that she's engaging in
00:31
has to do with what she wants to do with her life,
00:33
which is be an educator,
00:35
change lives, and spark magic.
00:37
Right now there is an aspiring teacher
00:41
in a graduate school of education
00:46
who is watching a professor babble on and on
00:48
about engagement
00:51
in the most disengaging way possible.
00:53
Right now
00:59
there's a first-year teacher at home
01:00
who is pouring through lesson plans
01:02
trying to make sense of standards,
01:05
who is trying to make sense of how
to grade students appropriately,
01:07
while at the same time saying to herself
01:11
over and over again,
01:12
"Don't smile till November,"
01:14
because that's what she was taught
01:16
in her teacher education program.
01:18
Right now there's a student
01:21
who is coming up with a way
01:24
to convince his mom or dad
01:26
that he's very, very sick
01:28
and can't make it to school tomorrow.
01:30
On the other hand, right now
01:34
there are amazing educators
01:37
that are sharing information,
01:39
information that is shared in such a beautiful way
01:41
that the students are sitting
at the edge of their seats
01:43
just waiting for a bead of sweat
01:46
to drop off the face of this person
01:48
so they can soak up all that knowledge.
01:51
Right now there is also a person
01:54
who has an entire audience rapt with attention,
01:57
a person that is weaving a powerful narrative
02:01
about a world
02:04
that the people who are listening
02:05
have never imagined or seen before,
02:07
but if they close their eyes tightly enough,
02:09
they can envision that world
02:12
because the storytelling is so compelling.
02:13
Right now there's a person who can tell an audience
02:17
to put their hands up in the air
02:20
and they will stay there till he says,
02:22
"Put them down."
02:24
Right now.
02:26
So people will then say,
02:27
"Well, Chris, you describe the guy
02:29
who is going through some awful training
02:32
but you're also describing these powerful educators.
02:34
If you're thinking about the world of education
02:36
or urban education in particular,
02:38
these guys will probably cancel each other out,
02:39
and then we'll be okay."
02:41
The reality is, the folks I described
02:44
as the master teachers,
02:46
the master narrative builders,
02:48
the master storytellers
02:50
are far removed from classrooms.
02:52
The folks who know the skills about how to teach
02:56
and engage an audience
02:58
don't even know what teacher certification means.
03:00
They may not even have the degrees
03:02
to be able to have anything
03:04
to call an education.
03:08
And that to me is sad.
03:10
It's sad because the people who I described,
03:12
they were very disinterested in the learning process,
03:15
want to be effective teachers,
03:18
but they have no models.
03:19
I'm going to paraphrase Mark Twain.
03:21
Mark Twain says that proper preparation,
03:23
or teaching,
03:25
is so powerful that it can turn bad morals to good,
03:26
it can turn awful practices into powerful ones,
03:30
it can change men and transform them
03:33
into angels.
03:35
The folks who I described earlier
03:38
got proper preparation in teaching,
03:40
not in any college or university,
03:42
but by virtue of just being in the
same spaces of those who engage.
03:44
Guess where those places are?
03:48
Barber shops,
03:51
rap concerts, and most importantly,
03:53
in the black church.
03:56
And I've been framing this idea
called Pentecostal pedagogy.
03:57
Who here has been to a black church?
04:00
We got a couple of hands.
04:03
You go to a black church,
04:05
their preacher starts off
04:06
and he realizes that he has to engage the audience,
04:08
so he starts off with this sort of wordplay
04:11
in the beginning oftentimes,
04:13
and then he takes a pause,
04:14
and he says, "Oh my gosh, they're
not quite paying attention."
04:16
So he says, "Can I get an amen?"
04:18
Audience: Amen.
04:20
Chris Emdin: So I can I get an amen?
Audience: Amen.
04:21
CE: And all of a sudden, everybody's reawoken.
04:23
That preacher bangs on the pulpit for attention.
04:27
He drops his voice at a very, very low volume
04:29
when he wants people to key into him,
04:31
and those things are the skills that we need
04:33
for the most engaging teachers.
04:35
So why does teacher education
04:38
only give you theory and theory
04:39
and tell you about standards and tell you about
04:41
all of these things that have nothing to do
04:43
with the basic skills, that magic that you need
04:45
to engage an audience, to engage a student?
04:49
So I make the argument that
we reframe teacher education,
04:51
that we could focus on content, and that's fine,
04:54
and we could focus on theories, and that's fine,
04:57
but content and theories
05:00
with the absence of the magic
05:01
of teaching and learning means nothing.
05:04
Now people oftentimes say,
"Well, magic is just magic."
05:07
There are teachers who,
05:09
despite all their challenges, who have those skills,
05:11
get into those schools and are
able to engage an audience,
05:13
and the administrator walks by and says,
05:16
"Wow, he's so good, I wish all
my teachers could be that good."
05:17
And when they try to describe what that is,
05:20
they just say, "He has that magic."
05:22
But I'm here to tell you
05:24
that magic can be taught.
05:26
Magic can be taught.
05:28
Magic can be taught.
05:31
Now, how do you teach it?
05:33
You teach it by allowing people
05:35
to go into those spaces
05:37
where the magic is happening.
05:38
If you want to be an aspiring
teacher in urban education,
05:40
you've got to leave the confines of that university
05:42
and go into the hood.
05:45
You've got to go in there and
hang out at the barbershop,
05:46
you've got to attend that black church,
05:48
and you've got to view those folks
05:50
that have the power to engage
05:51
and just take notes on what they do.
05:53
At our teacher education classes at my university,
05:55
I've started a project where every single student
05:58
that comes in there sits and watches rap concerts.
06:00
They watch the way that the rappers move
06:05
and talk with their hands.
06:07
They study the way that he
walks proudly across that stage.
06:09
They listen to his metaphors and analogies,
06:12
and they start learning these little things
06:14
that if they practice enough
06:15
becomes the key to magic.
06:17
They learn that if you just stare at a student
06:19
and raise your eyebrow about a quarter of an inch,
06:21
you don't have to say a word
06:24
because they know that that
means that you want more.
06:25
And if we could transform teacher education
06:29
to focus on teaching teachers
06:31
how to create that magic
06:33
then poof! we could make dead classes come alive,
06:35
we could reignite imaginations,
06:39
and we can change education.
06:41
Thank you.
06:43
(Applause)
06:46

sponsored links

Christopher Emdin - Education pioneer
Christopher Emdin is a science advocate who uses hip-hop to make better teachers.

Why you should listen
Chris Emdin believes the best teachers can be found in the unlikeliest of places -- and that traditional education theory is failing our students. That's why he founded Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bring Attention to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Engagement in Science), which takes the techniques for self-expression and engagement used in hip-hop into the classroom. (Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA is a fan and supporter as well.) Emdin is a contributor to The Huffington Post and is an associate professor at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.
The original video is available on TED.com
sponsored links

If you need translations, you can install "Google Translate" extension into your Chrome Browser.
Furthermore, you can change playback rate by installing "Video Speed Controller" extension.

Data provided by TED.

This website is owned and operated by Tokyo English Network.
The developer's blog is here.