» Welcome to the 4th Grade! – Young teacher-turned-rapper makes learning fun for kids
05.10.2016 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Welcome to the 4th Grade! – Young teacher-turned-rapper makes learning fun for kids

© Dwayne Reed

In August this year, Dwayne Reed (or Mr Reed to his students), hit the headlines when a back-to-school rap video he produced to get his 4th grade students excited about learning, went viral, amassing over a million views on YouTube!

For World Teachers' Day 2016 (5 October), we caught up with Mr Reed for a #YouthOfUNESCO interview to discuss how young people are changing the face of teaching.

“I decided to become a teacher firstly because kids are hilarious to be around and who doesn’t want to spend their work days laughing and smiling? Life is about connecting to others in meaningful ways and those connections start when we’re children.

This year is my first year teaching and I’m very conscious about the need to make learning real and meaningful to my students. I do this by incorporating their interests into what I’m teaching – things like SpongeBob and Pokemon Go are always big hits. Teaching with energy is also really important. If you’re lazy in front of the kids, they’ll pick up on that. But if you’re fired up, they’ll either become fired up or, at the very least, try hard to mimic your level of energy!”

Mr Reed, who is aged just 25 and from Chicago (United States of America), decided to get into teaching for the opportunities it offered him to play an active role in shaping the future.

“If I had any advice for any other young people thinking about getting into teaching, it would be “do it!”. The opportunity to impact the lives of others is worth more than any salary and as a teacher you will gain far more than you’ll ever be able to give.

Education is one of the main keys to success wherever you are in the world. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and what your background may be, a love for learning will take you far. It is up to countries to ensure that all children have access to quality teaching and learning as a basic human right, alongside food, shelter, safety and love.

One thing that I don’t think receives enough attention by authorities and organizations is the importance of teaching and learning materials that reflect the diversity of students in the world. We need to distribute books that reflect people’s races, religions, cultures, gender and ability-levels to ensure that children can relate to them and be inspired by them. We also need to ensure that teachers are fully supported, particularly those that work in more challenging areas. Since my video went viral, I’m determined to utilize my platform to raise more awareness of these issues.”

UNESCO’s youth programme works to ensure that talented young people, like Dwayne, with the ideas and know-how to enact real change in areas related to UN ESCO’s fields of competence, are no longer just beneficiaries in the organization’s work, but essential actors in finding the solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

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