A teacher’s basement-recorded rap to his students has gone viral, reminding listeners of every age that education is about more than studying and scores.
Between budget battles and math wars, it’s easy to forget that education is also about discovery and joy.
Dwayne Reed, a first-year teacher at Jane Stenson Elementary in Skokie, Il., reminded the world of that earlier this month when he created a music video to welcome his fourth-graders to the new school year, and saw it immediately go viral:
Education Lab grabbed a few minutes with Reed, 25, to talk about what prompted him to make “Welcome to the Fourth Grade.” He finishes his student-teaching gig in December. After that, he’ll be a free agent looking for work. Reed says he loves rainy, foggy weather. Hello, Seattle?
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Q: Why did you make the video, and how long did it take?
A: “I like music — just about every human being likes music — and what better way to start the school year than something that gets you moving and grooving? I never anticipated it going viral. This is the first music video I ever made. It was just a way to connect with my students. It took about an hour to write the lyrics, over the course of a couple of days — 20 minutes here and there — and I recorded in my friend’s basement. Then with video shooting and editing, the whole thing took about 10 or 11 hours. We posted it at 1 a.m. and then, well, it was a crazy week.
Q: You’re probably aware that there are very few African-American males in teaching. Was that a factor in your choosing this profession?
A: “First of all, kids are just hilarious. So why not get paid to laugh all day? More seriously, as a child I always felt singled out by white women teachers. I wasn’t bad or disruptive, for the most part. But for some reason I always felt there was a target on me. Now I get it. Look at the suspension rates — black kids are suspended at three or four times the rate of white kids, for the same offenses. But considering the image of black males that’s cast in the media, I understand. Why wouldn’t a normal, white American woman see black males in her classroom as they are on TV?
Q: What was your favorite subject as a student?
A: English and social studies. I hated music. I thought it was a waste of my time.