While my parents weren’t classroom teachers, it is clear looking back that they understood the power of media as an instructive tool. They surrounded me with opportunities to engage my young neurons using video, voice, art, and song.
At 7 years old, I began taking piano and vocal lessons, which led to community theater, civic light opera (inset), television, and eventually to movies. With my family’s support, I was programming in BASIC at 12, generating color images from my Apple ][e, editing cassette tapes to send “audio letters” to a pen pal, and orchestrating puppet shows in my back yard.
All of these experiences gave me a deeply ingrained appreciation for media and the arts. Outside of the classroom, I learned in the multi-age collaborative environment that is the theater, began to understand the power of television, live performance and film, and developed my creativity, outgoing nature, and stage presence: all skills that would later help me as a teacher and professional developer.
Even though I eventually transitioned away from performance as I embarked on a career in education, I found the skills and sensibilities I had developed in my earlier profession creeping into my work in unexpected ways. I leveraged music while teaching literature, tap dancing to teach meter and verse, and utilized multimedia to engage my students in creative projects. Not surprising that I passionately embraced technology in education and would become a champion for Blended Learning.
And it goes on: I recently performed a role-playing debate at an ISTE Board meeting to help my colleagues and me work through a challenging governance issue. Media is the gift that keeps on giving throughout my life. Just ask other child performers and CUE members such as Jamie Knight, Carol Anne McGuire, Mark Hammons, and Bill Selak!
Student production of media, creative performance, and artistic expression are powerful tools with which we can teach our students. This is why CUE co-produces the California Student Media Festival and hosts the Student Technology Showcase annually. I know firsthand the dividends such an education can yield. The Summer 2013 issue of OnCUE explores the many ways in which media can be an awesome learning environment.
For a chuckle, check out a 15-year-old “Michael from Ireland” from the 80’s-era TV sitcom “Gimme a Break” at the 7:15 mark: