5 Questions with Michael Lipset, Host of RecordEd Arts

RecordEd Arts, an original podcast series hosted by Michael Lipset for Spotify, Soundtrap and 4 Learning, highlights the stories behind the significant work of teachers bridging the gap between education and audio recording. Lipset, the Director of Social Impact at 4 Learning, is the ideal host for such a series. Through his expertise as a Ph.D. in hip-hop-based school change from McGill University and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Lipset understands the nuances of recording arts and the motivations of those working to affect change in classrooms, after-school arts programs, school counseling programs, and juvenile detention centers.

Each episode tells a distinct story about the recording arts in education followed by a closing segment presented by Jostin Grimes, a Soundtrap Education Specialist, with strategies to apply the lessons learned in the episode. The first season of RecordEd Arts highlights culturally sustaining pedagogy, school counseling, projects with young people facing incarceration, and many more interesting efforts.

To better understand the inspiration behind the RecordEd Arts series, host Lipset shared his thoughts with us in the following Q&A. 

Q&A with Michael Lipset, host of RecordEd Arts

Q: What inspires you to tell the kind of stories you get to highlight on RecordEd Arts?

Michael: I’ve been a recording artist since age 13, but embraced the role of educator for much longer than that. Through the years, I’ve witnessed how much young people teach adults and one another quite naturally and instinctively. Learning and teaching go hand in hand. Having the opportunity to tell stories at the intersection of the recording arts and education allows me to explore a wide array of topics close to my heart and my experiences.

I believe in the educational power of the recording arts. I studied it deeply while completing a doctoral dissertation on Hip-Hop-based school change. I’ve built my career in this space not only because it’s what I’m most interested in, but I see the potential of the recording arts in education as a form of equity and social justice.

Providing young people the chance to tell their stories in their own voices, particularly through music, empowers them while adding ever greater levels of self-awareness. Supporting youth in the creation of art that represents the world they wish to see fosters hope. In my eyes, it represents step one toward a more socially just, equitable planet. Hip-hop is a form of youth culture with roots in social justice that allows them to be seen and heard for their own unique talents and interests. Schools should do more to recognize the importance of this voice if they truly seek to honor the full humanity of their students.

Q: Was there anything you found surprising while working on the series ― or that listeners may find surprising as they tune in?

Michael: I’ve really been surprised by the incredible depth of each episode. It’s more than I could have even imagined before going into the production of the interviews. Each episode teaches me something new, shifting my plans as each story unfolds. It also allows me to add knowledge to my preparation for upcoming episodes.

Q: How did you originally decide to get involved in education? What motivates you to continue that work?

Michael: I come from a family of educators who raised me to embody a number of competencies that they held dear. As a result, I’ve found success as an educator, making the education space a place where my strengths are valued and put to use. I believe most people seek a similar space in their lives.

In addition to being an educator, I’m also an artist with a background in performance, which intersects with teaching in a variety of ways. As an artist, I studied both recording arts and aspects of performance art. I’m influenced by the author and thought leader Eric Booth, who says, “Teaching is an art and art is educational.” He defines ‘teaching artist’ as a term that must be understood uniquely since art and teaching are words uttered in the same breath. I agree, and as a result, I didn’t necessarily choose where I am professionally or what I’m doing. Instead, I decided to pursue my passions and interests and the rest followed.

I fundamentally believe in the power of the arts and education to change the world. We need this transition now more than ever. I developed this strong interest for change as an undergraduate, studying sociology and political science at the University of Minnesota. I believe there needs to be a world where all youth have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Climate change should also be addressed to see global warming reverse course while additionally holding one another accountable for their actions through a system designed to rehabilitate rather than punish. We should strive to create an environment where all races, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and people with disabilities receive the support they need from the government to live a life of dignity.

All these shifts must be made at a systemic level, and education plays a major role in not just bringing people to consciousness, but also promoting social justice at the structural level.

Q: What do you hope listeners will take away from listening to the series?

Michael: At a very fundamental level, I hope that people will leave with a willingness to dream big and try new things in their educational spaces. I hope they do so with an emphasis on equity.

Q: What change or transformation would you like to see in schools?

Michael: There are so many changes I’d like to see in education. But, narrowing it down, the most important improvements include widening the definition of ‘teacher’ so we can quickly and purposefully diversify the teaching force. To achieve this goal, teachers should be paid salaries comparable to those in law and medicine, schools and communities should communicate more effectively, and standardized tests need to be eliminated as a form of school accountability.

To hear the podcast, listen and subscribe to RecordEd Arts on Spotify