Friday, February 8, 2008

Introduction to the Blog

For roughly the past year, I have been writing new academic-type lyrics to established popular songs, as an unusual -- but perhaps effective -- teaching aid. I put these lyrics on the web and periodically sing them in my classes.

I am a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University, but my Ph.D. (University of Michigan, 1989) is in Social Psychology. I took a lot of social-science statistics courses in grad school, and teach statistics and research methods at Texas Tech.

Given all the academic disciplines involved, my lyrics are scattered over various class websites. On this "Teaching through Song" page, I make all the links to the lyric pages available in one location (see upper right-hand column). I will also use this forum to comment on general issues regarding teaching through song.

I am not claiming to be original with the idea of academically oriented song lyrics. Tom Lehrer, who wrote such lyrics in the 1950s through 1970s, is perhaps the best-known practitioner of the craft.

In terms of contemporary work, a fun-loving group at the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) has been writing (and compiling) lyrics for number-crunchers, whereas Walter F. Smith maintains a compendium of physics songs. Smith's site also contains a component on how to use these songs in class.

Stepping outside traditional academia, but much in the same spirit, the politically satirical songs of the Capitol Steps and Mark Russell are also well known in many circles.