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Posted at 1:35 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Obama, McCartney, Springsteen: Let Them Talk to Kids in School!

By Valerie Strauss

The Answer Sheet loves the Beatles and is delighted that the group is the No. 1 band in the world right now, even though the boys haven’t played together in 40 years and two are dead.

It seems unfair, though, that the new exposure to the greatest rock band is going to be limited to people who can afford the merchandise fueling the interest. Remastered CD sets and a video game called “The Beatles: Rock Band” were released today and they aren’t inexpensive: The basic game costs $60, but you have to have an operating system already; the CD sets cost between $200 and $300.

So The Sheet proposes that ex-Beatle Paul McCartney give a midday address about the importance of music and that it be beamed into schools that have had to give up music education because they are spending so much time preparing for standardized tests.

After all, schools interrupt class time periodically for special assemblies where guests address students on varying subjects. Former drug addicts and ex-cons are sometimes featured with stories intended to persuade kids out of trouble.

I guess those interruptions--and pep rallies, too--were forgotten by people complaining that President Obama was stealing precious instructional time when he addressed kids during school yesterday to talk about the importance of education.

Sorry dear colleague Jay Mathews, I still don’t agree with your opposition to the Obama speech.

The Sheet, in fact, likes the idea of guest speakers at school during school time.
Paul, for one. Bruce Springsteen, too, would work for me, too.

I offer my own kids’ school in Washington D.C. as a host. Bruce, you are coming here soon anyway; it was announced today that you have been tapped to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award for major artists on Dec. 6. You could talk to kids about how hard they have to work to win one.

So readers, who else do you think would be worthy of taking up instructional time to speak to kids during school?

By Valerie Strauss  | September 9, 2009; 1:35 PM ET
Tags:  Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, President Obama, music education, the Beatles  
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I am trying this again -

Have Wolf Kahn, a currently living, very famous 82-year old FABULOUS landscape painter monitor a slide how of his great paintings - the students will never again be able to take color or the environment for granted again!

Get Stephen Spielburg and George Lucas to
discuss the work of the imagination and filmmaking process...

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | September 9, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Another entry in the series could be Ken Griffey Jr. and Charles Barkley. Topic: "We Are Not Role Models."

Posted by: SportzNut21 | September 9, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

GREAT idea! This is something that the White House should champion! Many luminaries come to DC....Why not come up with a program that involves all the disciplines (music, the arts, science, history, literature, etc.). These role models can appear at a DC school venue (public and private) and talk to the kids (this can be taped as well as broadcast live and some of these can involve live interactive chats with the nation's children. Role models are important and with today's technology there are many ways to reach kids and gain access to people who have made a difference. Love the Idea about Bruce S. coming to your child's school! Why not talk to your principal and make it happen :), let us know what transpires! :).

Posted by: CaroleF1112 | September 10, 2009 5:06 AM | Report abuse

I'm certainly starting every class tomorrow with Springsteen's "the Rising" performed with that beautiful choir at the "We Are One Concert" for President Obama. (and kids today need to know the origins of the phrase "We Are One.")

And think of his lyrics, like "Devils and Dust," which I interpret as the thoughts of an American sniper (perhaps the nightmares of one whose mother explained his feelings on NPR after he was killed) "I've got God on My side, just trying to survive ...
Fear's a terrible thing, it will fill your God-given soul .. with devils and dust."

My inner city students love Springsteen's lyrics to American Skin, which is written from the perspective of the white cops who fired 41 shots at A. Louima, a Black mother sending her son off (if you are stopped tonight, always be poltite, and promise your momma you'll keept your hands in plain sight") and then universalizes the last verse where we are all baptized in each other's blood." And then when he changes the chorus,

"Is it a gun, is it a knife?
Is it in your heart, is it in your sight?"

And how can you top the multicultural lessons when Springsteen reinterprets folk classics in the light of Katrina? Think of what he's doing when he takes the classic sound of American frontier democracy as exemplified by Shenandoah with a New Orleans band?

Learning is an affair of the Heart as much as the Head. We have to celebrate the whole human being. To not take advantage of President Obama's two speeches this week, and the anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow would be educational malpractice.

Posted by: johnt4853 | September 10, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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