YouTube In School

| February 7, 2011

Yesterday was Superbowl Sunday, and yes, like the rest of America I was glued to my television watching the action. While I didn’t really care about the outcome (Packers? Steelers? eh…), there was a moment of controversy before the game even started that I believe merits attention.  Christina Aguilara, the famed pop singer, delivered a memorable “Star Spangled Banner,” botching the lyrics and then subsequently over-singing the song to the point of near un-recognition.  What I found very interesting,  is that within minutes, seconds perhaps, that performance of Aguilara singing was plastered all over Youtube. Indeed, I easily showed the clip from my computer 10 minutes later when my brother, who had missed it, demanded to see it.

Youtube is a staple of Web 2.0. It is both a far reaching musical archive that spans all genre, and an instant journal. The fact that schools often ban its use is flat out absurd. By doing so, school systems deny students a musical tool that acts in near real time; the same real-time that the students are located in.  The lesson of Christina Aguilara’s performance could be spun a number of ways for the benefit of education. Indeed, while she flubbed her line, Aguilara stayed poised and dignified, and did not let on that she had indeed made a mistake, a good lesson in performance etiquette. Perhaps a comparison with the paragon of National Anthem Performances in Whitney Houston would make for an interesting lesson on style, delivery, and technique. Nonetheless, I am struck by the immense power YouTube has in the modern era. In today’s world, we don’t have to wait to observe musical performances; they are nearly instantaneously available.  We do our students a disservice if we pretend that such an immense tool doesn’t exist. We relegate our students to the 20th century.