Ed. Note- In honor of the CUE Rock Star Camps, for which you can still register and run all summer, we will be presenting a Rock Like a Teacher series of posts in which educators talk about the music and musicians who made them better teachers.
When thinking of songs that relate to education, Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” comes to mind. Perhaps I associate this song with school since I was introduced to it in a high school class. This seemingly simple song contains a much deeper message than the lyrics suggest, especially when applied to education.
(We can be like they are) Come on baby
(Don’t fear the reaper) Baby take my hand
(Don’t fear the reaper) We’ll be able to fly
(Don’t fear the reaper) Baby I’m your man
If you are passionate about education, you most likely have seen a teacher/administrator who is doing something amazing, and you wish you “can be like they are.” You may be afraid and think to yourself that you are not capable of doing the same thing. Don’t fear the reaper. If you set yourself goals and “take [the] hand” of your support team, you’ll “be able to fly.”
The last lyric in the chorus brings a message of warning. Often in education, especially on social media, figures with thousands of followers are heralded as godsends and that they are “your man [or woman]” to solve every problem. This is not always the case. It’s important to rely on the people who are in the classroom environments who not only will help you, but will be with you to do it. “We’ll be able to fly.”
Finally, one lyric is peppered in briefly, but says a lot about what education is facing now. In the third verse, a backup vocalist almost whispers, “Redefine happiness.” Education is undertaking a large redefinition, with ESSA, Maker movements, 1:1 programs, and a laundry list of changes. What we need to focus on as we redefine school is making sure it’s a place where students want to be and will be happy.
Plus, we could always do with more cowbell.
Justin Birckbichler is a fourth-grade teacher in Stafford, VA. He earned a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Governors University. In the technology world, Justin is a Google for Education Certified Innovator and a Google for Education Certified Trainer. He has presented at various events and at VSTE15. Justin blogs at blog.justinbirckbichler.com, is on Twitter as @Mr_B_Teacher, co-founded the #FlyHighFri Twitter movement, and co-hosts the Eduroadtrip podcast. He is the co-creator and designer of breakoutedu.com/digital.