Four Lessons Teachers Can Learn from Jay-Z

Most teachers dismiss Jay-Z because of his hustler past, but there's plenty to learn from his massive success.

Jay-Z may have inspired a generation of rappers and entrepreneurs, but for most teachers, his hustler past and materialistic lyrics hardly make him a role model. But in a recent piece for Teacher magazine, New York City educator José Vilson writes that when it comes to engaging young minds, working toward a goal, collaborating, and expanding areas of expertise, teachers can learn from Jay-Z's massive success.

Vilson, a math teacher, coach, data analyst, and member of the Teacher Leaders Network, writes that when Jay-Z began to reach a broader audience, critics accused him of selling out. Similarly, teachers don’t want to ditch their high academic expectations just to engage all students. Just as Jay-Z figured out how to reach the masses while staying true to his roots, it’s possible, Vilson says, to communicate with students in a relatable way "without sacrificing the meaning, context, and depth of what we teach."

Jay-Z's music is critically acclaimed and his albums always go platinum, but he's had his share of career missteps. Teachers also make mistakes, Vilson writes, when they don't "listen to a student when we should have," or "could have better planned a lesson." So teachers, particularly new ones, have to learn the same lesson Jay did: Those mistakes won't "break" you "unless we fail to learn from them and they become patterns in our careers."

When it comes to collaboration, Vilson notes that while Jay-Z's worked with fellow rappers like Kanye West, he's also expanded far beyond the hip-hop sphere, teaming up with everyone from Linkin Park to Gwyneth Paltrow. In order to "improve students' experiences," teachers need to do the same by reaching beyond their grade level or department. For example, "science and language arts teachers can co-create lessons that help students identify and use literary techniques as they read and respond to science texts," he argues.

And, just as Jay-Z is no longer "just a rapper"—he worked on President Obama's 2008 campaign, and has supported United Nations' efforts in Africa—teachers should not see themselves solely as instructors, Vilson writes. Over the next 20 years, he says, educators should become "teacherpreneurs"—spending part of their time teaching students and part of it "solving our schools' most pressing problems."

Vilson's thoughtful analysis is certainly a departure from the dismissive way so many educators treat Jay-Z and other pop culture idols. If teachers can learn these lessons—whether from Jay-Z or someone else—they will, Vilson writes be able to "make a greater impact on our world."

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News