by: Alex Stubenbort

jimi“Knowledge speaks; but wisdom LISTENS.”-Jimi Hendrix

Rock ‘n’ roll history is cluttered with part-truths, mythology, and outright lies; and the following story could be any one of the three.  However, the eternal truths the story represents are far more important than the story ever having happened in actuality.

In 1966, Jimi Hendrix boarded a plane bound for London.  It was the first time that the Seattle-born guitarist ever traveled over seas.  At the time, Jimi Hendrix was relatively unknown as a solo act.  However, having worked with the likes of Little Richard back in the States, Hendrix had some pull that he took advantage of while in England’s capital.  On a night that Hendrix intended to be a mere concertgoer, he instead put in an “audacious request” to jam alongside rock ‘n’ roll divinity and Eric Clapton-fronted Cream.  Clapton consented.  During Cream’s encore, Hendrix ripped through a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s Killing Floor with such fiendish fervor that Clapton was left in utter disbelief.  Turning to his band mates, Clapton shouted out the now iconic words: “You never told me he was that (expletive) good!”


In a lot of ways, school buildings possess rock stars of their own: Eric Clapton-esque teachers that are viewed by the masses to be otherworldly good at the art of education.  In connected circles, educators of this caliber have been assigned the title of #EduRockStars.  And these pedagogical forces of nature typically deserve the recognition.  They spend countless hours honing their craft, connecting with kids, and serving their communities.  They truly are, for all intents and purposes, education divinity.  And yet, there are millions of other educators quietly melting proverbial faces with guitar solo-like precision: Jimi Hendrix-esque educators that are seemingly content as mere concertgoers but secretly fantasize about the day they will show the world the magic they are capable of.

Which brings me to my call to action to all the teachers creating miracles in the shadows. To the quiet ones that, instead of inspiring from front and center, move mountains from the back of the classroom.  The teachers that opt out of standing for recognition during commencement because at the end of the day “the moment belongs to the kids.” I call you to put in an “audacious request” to jam alongside #EduRockStars. Whether globally in the Twitterverse or locally in person, seek out these teachers: the ones that seem to have it all together and know it all. By doing so, you’ll come to realize the refreshing truth that they really don’t know it all, they are desperate to escape the echo chamber of their own ideas, and would love to have the opportunity to learn from YOU!


However, if you are fortunate enough to have achieved the title #EduRockStar, you too must take action. In the name of serving kids best, you should take the courageous step aside to make room for those Hendrix moments. By entertaining the “audacious request”, you open yourself up to the possibility of learning something new! The only thing that stands in the way between you and this discovery is your own pride. Therefore, allow yourself the humility to admit that you don’t have ALL the answers. Sure, Clapton’s ego was initially bruised, but he ultimately came to the realization that Jimi Hendrix opened him up to an extraordinary wealth of innovation! Without stepping aside and sharing the stage, Eric Clapton would have become complacent in his practice. He was, by all stretches of the imagination, the epitome of guitar virtuosity; and yet, even the guitar god had a thing or two to learn.

Which brings me to my final point. The “audacious request” of yesteryear is audacious no more. In our age of connectivity, the rock gods of education are a Tweet, Skype, and a jump away! Educators of all backgrounds have zero excuses for their empty teacher tool belts as the collective practice of millions of educators is on full display day in and day out on the interwebs. And this model should not end on social media. Schools around the world are modeling their professional development on the power of peers simply sharing the things that make them great. Through EdCamps and Pineapple Charts, educators are investing in the idea that together as #EduEquals we are better than any one #EduRockStar can be alone.

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