Ever wonder how to get your school noticed worldwide and become the coolest high school teacher ever overnight?
Recently (January 2015) theatre teacher, Scot Pankey and his 200 students did just that – not with some fancy computer school program or high maths or english test scores, but with one single music clip where he and his students danced in the halls to Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.
Since his youtube video was posted, it became an overnight viral sensation with over ten million views to date. Even Bruno Mars himself recognised it on both on Twitter and on Facebook;
When interviewed on major morning news channels, Mr Pankey commented:
“I Never thought it would be this big- it’s been an amazing ride”
Pankey told the Dallas Morning News “I heard the song before Christmas and fell in love with it,” “We are a project-based school … You give the students a project, put them in teams, and they have to come up with solutions. They had three weeks to work on it, then present as a group what they learned.” Each class was dressed in a different coloured top and they choreographed their own segment.
It turns out it was all done by him and the students. Pankey explained that three students filmed it altogether. One held the camera and two others were pulling him on a library cart. When they got to stairs, the student holding got off the cart and walked backwards (which may explain the slightly shaky video) , hopped back on the cart and the rest is- history!
So he must be a skilled dance teacher…right?
Wrong!! Yes he is a very skilled teacher, but not in dance- infact the school is a technology focused school where all the kids are into computers and programming. As Pankey explained in an Australian morning television show:
“Dancing has totally taken (the students) out out of their comfort zone. When they got back to school I said okay guys just brace yourselves- this is going to be a challenge! I’ve never done a project like this before, but if you’ll just trust me, there’s going to be trial and errors, hits and misses, but I’ll promise you this – we’re going to have a great time!”
Mr Pankey continued:
“My students were phenomenal ! They said “We’re going to trust you Mr Pankey – we’re going to do it” – and they just rocked!”
Mr Pankey explained the impact on the whole school was enormous. He said the day when Bruno Mars tweeted about it and then posted a comment about it on facebook was like the whole school was floating!
However, it’s also nice to see he’s humble and a realist too. When he was asked about what’s going to be next and how is he going to “top” this, he said:
” I told my students that this event is really a once in a lifetime thing.”
Here are just a few of the many great comments listed in youtube from various teachers and students from around the world posted below his video :
“This is fantastic! I wish my high school did stuff like this!! ” – Nick Johnson
“COOLEST THING EVER DONE BY A TEACHER!!!!!!!” – Roma Bhatia
“We need more of this in our schools. Make coming to class fun again. There’s nothing like learning in a fun way. Education rocks!!!! & they did it all in one shot. Awesome….” – Breon Holland
“This video is better than Bruno Mars’ own version. Sorry… but I just have to say that. This is such an awesome video. Great job, teacher and students!”- Andrea D
The Bigger Picture.
To me this video captures what the arts do for any school or community. Out of all the subject opportunities and and special teachers that this school obviously has or does, it wasn’t the technology or the high science,english or the maths scores that got it noticed- even though it’s a tech school. All those skills are obviously there, but it was communicated through the arts. This video I feel serves as powerful advocacy for any arts program in any school… this technology school was noticed on a worldwide level via the arts.
I thought this quote put this idea together nicely:
“If you really want to communicate with someone you don’t use science. Science is an organization of curiosity and ideas—and you have to talk about how you organize it, about the scientific method, you have to understand fundamentals because while it can be artistic, you can’t build a Blackberry device artistically—but art is a fundamental way to express the wonder of being human. If you really want to communicate with someone, it’s best not to show a graph, but to express something artistically.”- Col. Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut.
( PS: I choose this quote because this is the astronaut who became famous worldwide , not just because of scientific developments and experiences on the International Space Station. Instead, he communicated pictures to the world when he was up there, used social media to share and sang the first ever Music Video Clip in space called “A Space Oddity” which got him millions of youtube views. It was the ability to communicate via the arts that got him and the project noticed)
Just the Beginning….
I realise this is just my perspective and it’s only the beginning of the whole “Importance of Arts in Schools” conversation. Now I’d love you to continue the discussion using the comments below. Tell us your perspective on the “Importance of the Arts in Schools”. Do you think this guy is the coolest high school teacher ever? Tell us the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done as a teacher- the whole teaching community would love to learn from and see what you share and every perspective is valid!