Rock Star Van Zandt Helping Connecticut Students Re-Engage

By Pat Eaton-Robb for The Associated Press

Connecticut is turning to music in an effort to get kids more interested in school and help combat the learning loss suffered during the pandemic.

Gov. Ned Lamont and state education officials announced Tuesday that Connecticut’s public schools will be integrating a curriculum called TeachRock, the brainchild of Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Steven Van Zandt and his nonprofit organization, the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. The curriculum includes lesson plans in most subjects, tailored to different grade levels, all viewed through the lens of music.

Subjects include things like the Vietnam War and protest music, Langston Hughes’ poetry and the blues and hip-hop and its influence on politics.

“Statistics show that if a kid likes one single teacher or one single class, they will come to school, and we want to be that class,” Van Zandt said. “The days of dragging young people to some old-school education methodology I think are over.”

Lamont said the program ties in perfectly with his push to re-engage children who may have fallen behind during the pandemic or have been absent from school altogether. TeachRock can help get kids smiling again and excited about learning, he said.

“As Steven said, there’s nothing better than music to make them do that,” Lamont said. “It just lets out a big sigh of relief and then along the way you’re learning a little bit about history, a little bit about culture, maybe you’re hearing some lyrics that speak to you and you share that with a friend. I think it’s just what we need right now.”

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