Professional Learning

Pop Quiz: Moby

The tech-happy musician and activist advocates emotionally aware educators.

August 13, 2008

Moby's career has been a story of extremes and paradoxes. This intense musician (real name: Richard Melville Hall) has been an underground New York City DJ, a punk rock drummer, and a creator of euphoric and trancelike dance music who jumps around stage like a dervish. In 1999, he took the dance clubs by storm with Play, which sold more than nine million copies. He is also a highly aware environmentalist and social commentator and a sharply astute advocate of alternative lifestyles.

Literature teachers may feel a special connection to the eclectic artist. He got his nickname after Moby Dick, which was penned by his great-great-grand-uncle Herman Melville.

Nine chart-topping albums later, he has released a compilation album called Go: The Very Best of Moby. He says of his life as a solo artist, "Working in my studio at home, I just try to make music that pulls at my heartstrings and affects me in a very profound way. If it does that to me, hopefully there is a chance it will do it to other people as well."

What is your idea of a perfect teacher?

Ideally, a teacher should be patient, enthusiastic, ideologically and intellectually flexible, and committed to the growth and development of his or her students. Oh, and noncompetitive.

What was your most memorable school experience?

I'm a nerd -- winning the townwide spelling bee in fifth grade.

What was the low point of your school career?

Being rejected from the choir in sixth grade. Ironic, huh?

Where did you fit in your schools' social hierarchies?

I have no idea. I was a punk rocker and a nerd, neither of which made me terribly popular.

Did you go to public school, or private school?

I've only gone to public schools.

What was your favorite subject?

Reading. Literature. I'm not sure what it was called at the time. Anything that involved fiction.

If you could change one thing about education in America, what would it be?

Somehow, make it less regimented and rote. When I was in school, we had a lot of memorization without context. History is fascinating, but not when it's reduced to decontextualized times, dates, and names.

What is impossible to learn in school?


What should they teach that they don't now?

Anger management, emotional self-awareness, small-business start-up skills.

What did you learn today?

That all sunblock over SPF 15 is equally effective.

What did you teach?

Nothing as of yet.

What is in your dream lunch box?

Vegan tacos.

If you wrote a textbook, what would it be called?

Name Five Successful People Who Didn't Do Well in School.

If the prom were tomorrow, whom would you take?

Alas, I'm currently without a prom date.

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