Inspiring Passion-Driven Education with Yo-Yo Ma and Ron Berger
- I would maintain that a written rubric of what makes a good musical performance is going to show future musicians very little without having seen a performance of how it is first. Great writing, great visual arts, great music or even a great service project, the model of that is so much more powerful than the rubric, which is why I carry around 90 pounds of student products with me. But I’m gonna say one story, and that’s that I walked into a special ed classroom of eighth graders, and it was about a dozen eighth grade boys, many of whom were much older than eighth grade age, all of whom were African-American and they were big city kids, and I was a white guy in a tie. They were all looking out the window or looking down at their feet. They weren’t disrespectful in any outward way, but they clearly had no use for me whatsoever. And I couldn’t think of anything I could say to interest them. I went to my portfolio, I got out blueprints of homes, and I spread them on the carpet in the middle of their classroom and just started arranging them, and I didn’t say a word. And one kid got off his chair and got on his knees and started looking at it and he said, “Hey, come look at this.” And another kid got off his chair and started looking at them. And then they all got off their chairs and they started looking at them. And one of them said, “Mister, what is this stuff?” And I said, “It’s home blueprints.” He said, “Who did this stuff?” I said, “My students.” He said, “How old are these kids?” I said, “Sixth grade.” He said, “No way! Sixth graders did this?” I said, “Do you think you could do it?” And he said, “Well, if I had time, I think I could.” He said, “Did they get to design their own homes.” And I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Oh, man! “Man, they did?” And he said, “Come look at this.” And they all started, “Oh, this one has a swimming pool.” “You know what? What are you putting in your house? “I’m putting in this.” And one of them looked up and he said, “Mister, when do we begin?” And I thought, it was all about the models.