Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Is this the best school ever?

Over the last 24 hours, a video of some US school librarians recreating The Beastie Boys' Sabotage video has gone viral - ending up on Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, The Onion and dozens of other websites.

If you haven't seen it already, you're in for a treat.

What most of the coverage has failed to spot is that this video is part of a series, and they're all excellent.

The school in questions is Francis W. Parker K-12 School in Lincoln Park, Chicago. It's named after a US educational pioneer (note to Michael Gove: He successfully challenged the idea of rote learning in the 19th Century), whose motto was "A school should be a model home, a complete community, an embryonic democracy."

It's with that in mind that these videos get made, every year since 2006, for something called the Mike And Duane Show. Essentially, it's a big comedy sketch show the staff put on for the pupils at the end of term, but the production values are insane.

Here they are recreating Michael Jackson's Bad in the school cafeteria.

This is Taylor Swift's I Knew You Were Trouble, filmed in the style of Vampire Weekend's A-Punk video.

And, of course, there's an obligatory Fresh Prince cover.

I don't know about you, but my school would never have contemplated anything like this. We were lucky if we got to sing Handel's Messiah once a year to an audience of reluctant and borderline suicidal parents. One of FW Parker's teachers wrote a great blog post [read it here] explaining why their approach is better. It's certainly inspirational, and I don't even go to there. I just wonder if all this creativity and exuberance can ever make up for double maths.

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