What EDU Can Learn From EDM 1


—- This post comes cross-posted from the Radiate Positivity blog, and it is a reflection on a featured presentation entitled ‘Techno Teaching‘ that I gave at MACUL 2015 Conference. Sam Kohl, the blog’s author, did such a great job capturing the essence of my presentation, that I decided to let her tell you about the salient points of my talk:

Techno Teaching Poster

Caveat: Education has many acronyms and technical terms that pervade the language. Here, EDU refers to “education” and “educators” broadly. EDM, on the other hand, is an acronym for Electronic Dance Music, a genre that is, at least in part, created using electronic or virtual software instruments. EDM is the category to which DJ-produced techno music belongs.

by Sam Kohl

I attended an awesome featured session at the end of the day on a Friday.  It was a very impromptu decision to attend and I did not know what to expect.  When we walked through the doorway and electronic music was playing, bass pounding, I knew I had picked the right session.

CollaborateI am a huge fan of all different kinds of electronic music and was curious how Gary Abud was going to relate this genre of music to education.

As the presentation went on, his soft mellow voice a contrast to the electronic tracks he was playing, I questioned how I had never seen before how alike electronic DJs and educators are. Abud’s presentation did more than just hold my attention.

It blew my mind.  

He compared both the roles of electronic DJs and educators and how the two are generally perceived by society.  Electronic DJs and teachers alike are up against the idea that anyone can do what they can do, that to be a DJ or a teacher you simply have to “press play.”  And while that certainly is true of some DJs and some teachers, an effective teacher or a good DJ would never have achieved success if all he or she did was “press play.”

DEMF7Electronic DJs perform live and they produce music.  Teachers do the same thing: they teach (perform live) and produce lessons.  There is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work that goes on in order to make the live performances of electronic DJs and teachers a success.

During the performance, electronic DJs and teachers must make multiple real time decisions in their heads according to the crowd and overall feeling of the show.

Abud emphasized the parallels between teaching and DJing, and argued to his audience of educators, “We have something to learn from DJs.”  There are two things that DJs do really well, according to Abud: they mix other people’s music and they produce their own.  This concept of remixing is one he believes could transform teaching if more teachers and schools were to support this kind of collaboration.

daft-punk1There is this term, co-opetition, that is used to describe a working relationship that is both collaborative and competitive.  Co-opetition involves promoting your own work, while also promoting the work of others – a win-win.  Abud suggests teachers share their lesson plans with each other in the same way that DJs sample each others’ music.  “Imagine a world,” he said, “in which AWESOME lesson plans went viral the same way that AWESOME electronic tracks do.”

The other thing that teachers can learn from DJs is the art of creating epic experiences.  People don’t just go to electronic music shows for the music, but for the overall experience.

“DJs help their audiences know how to move, no matter how familiar they are with the music or how well they can dance,” says Abud.

heart handsThis is an engagement technique that should be mirrored in the classroom.  There is a sense of mutual respect at electronic music shows.  As I know from experience, when someone is feeling the love and feeling the music at a show, they form a heart with their hands and hold it up.  What if that happened in the classroom?

I am left thinking about how I can create epic experiences in my English classroom, how I can engage my audience of students in the same way that electronic DJs capture their audiences at a show.  I think Abud is right on with this stuff, and as a someone who frequently attends electronic shows and music festivals I can attest to the unbelievable feeling one gets from being at these performances.

How can I get my students to feel that way about English class?

Techno Teaching – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

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Gary is an influential teacher leader with extensive experience educating students at the high school and university level. He is a regular conference presenter, education speaker, and leader of staff development for educators. His classroom practice embraces a collaborative environment centered on constructivist teaching, project-based learning, classroom branding, Modeling Instruction, standards-based grading, and mobile device technologies.

About Gary G Abud Jr

Gary is an influential teacher leader with extensive experience educating students at the high school and university level. He is a regular conference presenter, education speaker, and leader of staff development for educators. His classroom practice embraces a collaborative environment centered on constructivist teaching, project-based learning, classroom branding, Modeling Instruction, standards-based grading, and mobile device technologies.


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One thought on “What EDU Can Learn From EDM

  • Janine

    I was at that same presentation. One more similarity… good DJ’s take music and it get’s into your SOUL, good teacher’s take content, and it gets into your SOUL!!!!