Here is a short glimpse of what this kiwi can do on a skateboard.
The answer is short and may be rather blunt and not necessarily even to this teacher's liking. Students of today and tomorrow see an individual as someone to aspire to be like, someone to follow and someone to learn from. Students today see Richie Jackson as akin to a teacher, someone who in many cases they find it easier to relate than the degree-qualified teacher who appears to be removed, non-personable and all about achievement and test scores and so little about fun.
Due to the power and reach of Youtube and other video-sharing platforms and a dramatic improvement in digital camera technology and innovation and application, teachers are now competing against the Richie Jacksons of the world in a battle for students' hearts and yes, their minds.
Want to engage your students in the classroom and in learning, here's how Richie Jackson can be beneficial:
- Richie is innovative in his tricks and moves but his athletic ability would count for very little if he just copied other skaters' moves. It's clear from his videos that a heck of a lot of thought goes into each move or more significantly a succession of moves.
- Richie performs in the real world, the streets, schools and playgrounds that our teenagers, students live and breathe in. He is one of them. Teachers need to be in the world of our students....dude (just trying!).
- He is true to himself and is confident enough to be individual. This is perhaps one of his greatest triumphs and one of our students' greatest struggles. Peer pressure for our learners often means that individualism is suppressed if it differs "from" the norm. Even for a pro skater, one must admit his clothing style is rather unqiue!
- He shows his fails! This is massive. One video I watched was a compilation of incredibly athletic and creative moves and not one did he fall off! What pleased me most was that straight after this high-quality production, there was a same-length compilation of him failing many of the same moves. In publishing both productions, he highlighted 1) how good someone can be if they keep trying and 2) no success or victory comes without a degree of frustration or delay or failure. How many teachers are prepared to fail and promote this failures. Maybe, just maybe if we did so, we would be more embraced, more engagement with our students. We would be more real to them.
- Lastly, Richie highlights the importance of digital competency. The videos, albeit shot in street-style are of fantastic quality and accessibility and take you right along with Richie as if you are actually on location. Teachers need to be capable of using digital technology for student learning, engagement, promotion, arguably more so than this young man. If a professional skateboarder is heavily embracing digital technology, surely it is non-negotiable for professional educators.
Student learning today is no longer just from teachers, from the classroom, or heaven forbid from a textbook. Students' high capability and frequent use of digital in and out of the classroom is only going to create a vaster pool of teachers for them to learn from. We have no choice if we teachers want to remain integral to our students' learning contexts. We have to move with the times, with the students, with the Richie Jacksons of the world. Let's skate dude!