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Saturday, April 12

Could a British teacher ever do this?

This is an inspirational and moving video. It's about students at the Bronx High School of Performance and Stagecraft in New York responding to Barack Obama's speech on racial reconciliation in America. It was created following a request from their teacher, Jackson Shafer, to the Obama campaign.

"He makes me care, and he makes me want to believe and he makes me want to get up and go and do something with my life," says one of the kids, Sylvia Bonilla.

"People say that South Bronx kids will never amount to anything, but I say, ‘Yes We Can.’", says another, Anna Boateng.
Of course the answer is no to whether a British teacher ever do this, or anything like it, and put it on YouTube. And the amazing New York teacher and the Head of the School apparently broke some rule and will probably be pursued and punished.

But I love this response.
Principal Mark Sweeting, who could receive a disciplinary letter in his file, acknowledged that the video shoot violated school regulations. Still, he said, he remains "in awe" with what took place inside the classroom.

"The bottom line is I have a senior Hispanic female student that is now interested in politics. I have a male African-American student that is being raised by a single mother that is now in tune with what a superdelegate is," Sweeting said. "That to me is outstanding. That to me is inspirational."
Watch it and weep that stupid, blind bureaucracy and fear of it would ensure that nothing like this would ever be allowed in the UK and would therefore keep UK teens in schools in similar deprived areas from expressing themselves and being inspired/inspiring others in a similar way.

Postscript: Shane from Gallomanor has suggested I not be so bleak!

He points me at I'm a Councillor get me out of here!, a Hansard Society Project, Student Question Time, and Podminions.

There's a video on Podminions which was pretty good (but it's not on YouTube), because it sounded like young people talking for themselves.

Doing a YouTube hunt, Respect had some ranty stuff from youth but I found some pretty good stuff from the British Youth Council, like this:

Low view numbers though.

And UK Youth Parliament had some good stuff:

But this is the sort of thing I was really looking for - how young people are using YouTube to politically express themselves - and it's powerful:

And another one:

And another one, on the same subject:

With a few video responses already:

Here's another one (nb: 'sorry for the robot voice :/'):

Who knew that Lord Goldsmuch had so many fans! These previous vids have higher view numbers than 'official' ones, including some of the Labour YouTube channel! Please, egovers and edomocratites - get this onto your radar!


  1. Shane McCracken14.4.08

    Not sure why you think a UK teacher could never do this? Teachers are getting involved in events (online and off) that involve students in politics and democracy. Our own I'm a Councillor, the Hansard Society's Head's Up and BBC's Student Question Time are all steps in the right direction.

    Nick Booth is making some headway with

    I agree it isn't as slick and inspirational as the Bronx stuff, but over time the talent will shine through as this homage to an ex-teacher friend of mine shows:

    PS when I vist your site I'm asked for a Feedburner log in, bit strange.

  2. Sorry about the feedburner log in - is anyone else getting this?

  3. Shane McCracken15.4.08

    They are great. Did you see that one of yours was in response to:
    which has had a phenomenal 47,000 views.

    Also interesting is that they all seem to be individual efforts and certainly not from the school. One reason may be the number of schools that block their pupils from watching YouTube nevermind posting to it.

    We recently asked Teachers who are helping out with our I'm a Scientist event to test out some video formats. Half the small sample said YouTube wasn't available.

    BTW what search terms did you use to find those videos?

  4. Er, can't recall exactly but I think 'youth' and 'politics' and 'uk'.

    filters would allow certain youtube pages once set, though you might then have a problem clicking onwards unless those were also cleared - nightmare.

    i always think monitoring and notification of it is better than over-blocking, but the filter sellers have a commercial motivation and the heads and school overseers another motivation. I have written a lot about this!

    you could do a pageflakes page or similar and pull these types of vids in from youtube. better tagged but you can see what's there are try common terms to start with.

    Blinkxx searches don't find anything like these vids. perhaps it's designed more for adults.

  5. oh, and the filters probably don't block video but URLs. this cuts you out of the youtube community but you could publish them twice - using somewhere else which isn't blocked.

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