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Sept. 19, 2022

Episode 65: When Community Engages with Education, Everyone Wins with Mark Taylor

Episode 65: When Community Engages with Education, Everyone Wins with Mark Taylor

Is there something in school like music, art, woodshop, cheerleading or sports, that keeps your kids wanting to learn more? In this episode, DJ talks with Mark Taylor, a percussionist and instructor from the UK, about the classes and teachers that get kids excited about learning, and those that create an environment for them to grow, thrive, and be themselves. Listen in as they discuss how creativity is going to give rise to the skills, the understanding and the knowledge that we all need in the future for a sustainable, happy and tolerant planet. 

Mark has been a professional percussionist for 25 years and has had the opportunity of performing with some of the UK’s finest orchestras and theater companies. Finding his passion and ‘voice’ through music gave Mark the desire to share this understanding through his drum and percussion teaching which he provides in schools and in his private practice.

• [6:41] “It's the young people who are at the heart of everything that we're doing.” 
• [12:47] “I think the more we can take this sort of natural learning, understanding that we all know, as parents, and take that into a slightly more formal setting,”
• [27:41] “We have to put our focus on what the child needs… how much information, how much support, how much general kind of extra things you put in play to give them what they need.”
• [44:29] “The more you can give them the environment where they can step into who they really are and how they can help others, then that's going to change and that kind of positive reinforcement is going to be great for them…”

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Mark Taylor


DJ Stutz  0:13  
We think you should know that Imperfect Heroes podcast is a production of Little Hearts Academy USA. Perfect. 

You're listening to Episode 65 of Imperfect Heroes, Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world. And I'm your host, DJ Stutz. Mark Taylor is a professional musician. And every day he gets to do the thing that he loves most. And this is only happened because he found himself in a school that offered the opportunity to experience a wide range of skills. And he knew immediately what he loved, and the school was able to harness it, and show him a path to explore. Trust me, it wasn't easy or straightforward all the time. But he knew and felt that it was possible. And that is how it starts for kids just like the match and stand back and fanned the flame. There's so much to learn. So let's get started.

You enjoyed this episode, I would love for you to let our guests know, just scroll down to the bottom of our podcast page if you're listening on Apple podcasts, and Apple podcasts, and just click on that fifth star. By adding a few short words about the episode, you will let my guests know what you think of their message. And that really does help our podcast to grow. Taking the time to give the podcast a five star rating and review really does help to expand the podcast and makes it so much easier to find. And we are then able to help more families. 

For my kids, there was something in school that kept them coming in wanting to learn more from cheerleading, sports woodshop, or hair design, there was that something that helped them through. Mark Taylor truly understands this. He says, I don't remember much about the education policies. At the time that I was at school. I do remember the classes, and teachers that got me excited about learning, and those that created an environment for me to grow, thrive, and be me. And it is this bed of creativity that is going to give rise to the skills, the understanding and the knowledge that we all need in the future for a sustainable, happy and tolerant planet. Let's show our pupils what has been achieved, what is known about the world, and then how all this knowledge came about. And then set them free to explore, to make inquiries and grow so they can become the person they were born to be. And in helping them develop their gift. The world has a bright, happy and exciting future of wonderous possibilities. So let's listen in. 

Welcome, everyone to Imperfect Heroes podcast. I'm so honored and excited that you chose to spend this time with us. Today I am talking with Mark Taylor. Now Mark comes to us out of the UK, England specifically. And he has some really great insights and ideas on education and what we can do and how we can learn more. Mark, why don't you just tell us a little bit more about what you have going on?

Mark Taylor  4:02  
Well, DJ, thank you so much for having me on the show. It's always great to chat to people across the pond, as they say and yeah, my name is Mark. And I actually am a professional musician by trade and teach in schools doing drum and percussion lessons. But my main sort of focus of education is I have a podcast called education on fire. And that really sort of came out of my passion for wanting to share the inspiring creative things that I was seeing in schools is a music educator, both in terms of those individual lessons, but also traveling around different schools doing music workshops. And I kind of initially had that thought of you know, the teacher in the staff room was slightly sort of hitting their head against a brick wall thinking I'm sure when I got into this I was going to make a massive difference in the first sort of five minutes. I was entering the school and now you know, I've got all these things I'll have to check box and all that kind of thing. But I thought I visited so many schools they actually there were some amazing things and I thought well if I can actually just add some of those things. If teacher isn't necessary. really getting that information from, from their principals or their heads, at least they're here from somewhere else. And some of these things, they can actually change and make a big difference in their immediate classroom or the other children that they're supporting. Or maybe they could turn around and say, Look, I've heard about this school or this particular area that's doing these amazing things, maybe we can look into it a little bit more. So it's basically sharing that kind of creative and inspiring learning, but also sort of some ideas and real sort of tips that they can take it forward. And it kind of married really well as I was also having my children going through school as well. And I thought, you know, this is the type of experience I'm hoping they're having. So the two things sort of went hand in hand. And that was back in 2016. And here we are, in 2022. And, and it seems to be really flourishing.

DJ Stutz  5:44  
That is so exciting that it's working well for you. I think this is a great podcast episode for teachers and parents for both. So that teachers can maybe get some ideas of things that they want to add in their school and in their classroom, or some of the things that they can maybe ask questions about, it's the same thing for parents, as well, and asking, Well, do we have this program at that program? How can I help you in supporting six banding opportunities for our kids?

Mark Taylor  6:22  
I think for me, it's all based around community. And it's very easy to say, we're talking about teachers, or we're talking about parents. But of course, everybody's involved in the school, there are many parents who will also be teachers and very teachers who will be parents, even if they're not directly within that same school. And so it's the young people who are at the heart of everything that we're doing. And so I think having these conversations, you could almost call it with different hats on. But I think the reality is, is that what can I do today that helps this child? And is that this particular program? Is it this particular event? Is it how I'm teaching this particular class? And how would that feel if I was hearing that as a parent, and the pandemic has been a really important thing for people to see inside how education is a course it was very different during the pandemic. But I think that kind of sense of what are we wanting children to learn? But more importantly, how are they learning because of course, there's so many different ways of doing that. And I think that's where I find it really exciting chatting to, I think it's now over 270 people, it's that sense of, well, there is no one size fits all, there's only whatever it is that you can do now, based on what you've heard, and what you want to put into practice. And therefore there's no right or wrong, there's just whatever feels good. And I think authenticity and kind of excitement about being able to teach and to learn and to share your experiences, that then filters down really into the children that we're serving as well. And I think then you have that kind of shared learning experience in whichever way works for you. And I find that a really exciting place to start.

DJ Stutz  7:53  
I agree with you. And you're so right, that one size does not fit all that doesn't work in clothing. It doesn't work in education, because children learn in different ways. And we've identified well, some say seven, some say 10 different learning styles. And so you're gonna have any of those styles of learning in your classroom. And there are some that are more common. But there are others that kids have to be up and walking around to learn. And other kids do better with something to really focus hard on, and just give that their full attention while other kids need something on the outside, maybe even a fidget in their hand, will help them concentrate. And so when we're talking about education, we're talking about understanding your students, understanding your kids, and knowing their learning style. And parents can really give a lot of information for the teacher, right? In some of those things, and in finding alternative ways to meet the kids needs.

Mark Taylor  9:12  
I think that's really true. And I certainly know from my experience that just that I mean, it depends on home schools interact with parents, but my particular situation is that parents can actually email me and it's always great to know, oh, they just heard this over the weekend, and they got really inspired by it. Or, you know, we've just been on a trip and they're really tired. Well, that's going to change. Like I say, each child has a different experience of their learning, but every day is different as well, if they've had a late night, if they've been away if they've been excited by something if they've been exposed to something. I just think all those things happen. So I think like I say, having the dialogue maybe for a school situation, it's that kind of in a meeting on the job path and been able to say, oh, yeah, just so you know, it might be something which is incredibly important that you need to impart and of course, you know, whatever systems are in place to support that child can can tape plays, but it might just be something really, really simple like, Ah, this, we went in to watch this concert for my, you know, sort of obviously from a musical and the music teachers. And they just suddenly opened up or we saw this on the telly, and they were asking all these questions. So from there, my first opening gambit can be kind of great. How was your weekend? Did you do anything already knowing that actually, probably, yes, I know that they've seen something or whatever. And then from there, they just sort of open up and they relax. And I think for me, it's interesting, because a lot of my teaching is one on one, I'm able to sort of change the way I adapt, depending on each pupil as well. And of course, that's much harder when you have a whole class of people. But I think whatever bit of time you can take to have that conversation. I mean, certainly one of the things I find a lot from all the conversations I've had, it's that kind of you know, what teacher? Do you really remember? And it's usually the one that saw you. Oh, yeah, they were it wasn't they taught me to do maths this way, or English that way, is the fact they saw that I was struggling, and they helped me, they gave me some space, they gave me something to read, they encouraged me to put my best foot forward and give it a go. And that kind of human to human interaction, despite the age difference, despite the fact that someone's a teacher, someone's a child, but that kind of human connection. And I think, then you're able to kind of start those conversations, get that sort of positive energy going get that kind of shared learning experience that I said before, and I think, then you're on a really good footing for people to thrive. And I think the more you feel that, so whether it's in the classroom, whether it's at home, whether those things start to cross over, so they become part of the child's learning experience, rather than this is what I do in school. This is what I do in home. Because I think, certainly for me, a lot of what we often hear is that children don't want to ask a question, they don't want to put their hand up, they don't to be seen to be not knowing something, they don't want to fail. And as soon as you can kind of start with the sped law, those things and encourage the fact that we're just learning from everything that we do, then everything becomes positive, everything becomes exciting. And then we can kind of sort of dampened down how that happens. And I was loved the fact is sort of analogy of when you've got a toddler around, they just try and walk they get up, they try things they fall over, they fall over again. But over the course of time, you know, we just have these conversations with them, we hold their hand, we walk up and down the stairs over time and time again. And then they can do it, there's no kind of while you've tried it 10 times. So therefore, you're never gotta walk. Just as a word like that. And I think, you know, there's a reason these things happen naturally. And I think the more we can take this sort of natural learning, understanding that we all know, as parents, and take that into a slightly more formal setting, I think the more we start to feel that the young people can then thrive because their innate understanding of learning and how we can support them is sort of in place, really.

DJ Stutz  12:48  
And I think to go in with that analogy of learning to walk, when your child falls, you don't yell at them and call them names or why that's this. I don't understand. Everybody knows how to walk, why can't you? We would never do that to our kids. And yet, it's interesting how quickly, we turn that around. And we'll start getting after them because they don't have their alphabet writer, their letter sound associations connected, or why can't you get this math. My father got his doctorate at Berkeley, and taught at UCLA for the time I was growing up in electro chemical engineering. And so when I didn't get science and math, it just frustrated him. It's so easy. And I think that we as parents, and teachers can sometimes get on our kids about that we're really what they need is the same thing they needed when they were learning to walk, they'll get it, it just takes time, I have one child that walked at 10 months, I have another one that didn't walk until 1415 months, and I didn't think she was stupid, she just had other things she was working on. I think that when we have that attitude in that outlook, as parents and teachers, our kids are going to excel so much more, because then they're not afraid of making that mistake.

Mark Taylor  14:19  
And you bring up a fabulous point that is the fact that you know, when should you be able to do anything. And that's about a development thing, you know, and up until that sort of school age, you know, you've got that time to let them develop. It's only then we suddenly hit a much more structured system. And then we you know, we could talk about schools as opposed to homeschooling and how we go about educating our children. But as soon as you get into that particular sort of rules kind of restrictive system is that kind of Bob with the age of five, you should be reading like this or understanding these words or that's fine, but as you've just perfectly demonstrated, you know, one child walks in one particular age, my daughter was walking, certainly at the age of 10 months because she walked up the aisle behind my sister when she got married, but one of either children, certainly kind of 18 months or more and just really just like sitting down and playing, there was no need to move anywhere because there was no particularly not Well, neither one is right or wrong, it's just happens to be sort of how that is. And I think as a parent, I mean, we got much better at this me and my wife because we've got a September birthday. So our eldest child is in September birthday. So oldest didn't a year, you know, nearly an entire year older than some of the other people in her class. And our two others were, what a July birthday want an August birthday. So right at the end of the year, and to begin with, when we first first started the middle child, having these parents evenings, it's that kind of all Yeah, doing well, but this and that, and then you go to a parents evening, at the end of the year, and like these last two or three months, they've just suddenly, you know, suddenly gone really well. And we're like, but they're now the sort of age that they can pick that up because they're there. Now the age where the children at the beginning of the older in the class were when they started the year. And so the more these sort of conversations happened it parents evening, the more as parents, we thought, we're going to have this year in year out, and we did we had the same conversations. And so when our third child started school, and we had these conversations, we were just like, you don't need to tell us about how this works. Because it's obvious that you know, at the age of five, that's, that's a nice percentage of their life that they're getting to at the end of the year, rather than the beginning of the. So it makes perfect sense that despite whatever their natural development is, there's like a whole year's difference in age and they've only been around for five years already.

DJ Stutz  16:39  
Right? Isn't that amazing? And it's funny when I first started teaching, and I'd have kids, you know, I taught kindergarten and they're not getting it, they're not getting it, I don't know, I'm trying really hard. We're doing all these other activities to address learning in different ways. And I kind of stress out, the last six weeks of school was just a time of transformation. And you would see these kids that you worried and you were concerned about all year long. Finally, that light bulb goes off. And whether it's behavioral managing emotions, or academic issues, it's just amazing how much growth that that takes in those last six weeks. So by the time I was finished, I just retired just a couple months ago, I'd have younger teachers that were all strung out and I'm like, Don't worry, it's gonna happen. No, no, but this and this, and sure enough, and a year exactly the right things were going to happen. And I think to our kids respond to us so much better, when were more calm, yeah, you're gonna get it and it's fine. We'll just keep trying. And one of these days, it's going to click I know it is. And when the kids feel that you have that calmness and patience of understanding, that encouragement, but not the expectation, or, Oh, you didn't get it, right. They pick up when you're stressed and worried whether you're a parent or teacher, they pick up on that. And so I think when we have a better understanding that kids learn different things at different points in their lives, but they'll get it. And so when we calm down, we're gonna see a lot more progress with our kids.

Mark Taylor  18:29  
I think that's really true. And I think that comes partly, isn't it because you know, at this age, you have to do this example, we're sort of talking about teenagers and that kind of thing. You know, you need to graduate, you need to finish school, and then you're gonna get well whatever grade it happens to be. And that has to be at this time, which of course, as adults, we all know, you could take that exam every year for the rest of your life. And each time you get a different point, then it wouldn't make any difference. Because it seems to be that you go to school, and then you go to college or university, then you get a job. But of course, you might be a mature student, when you go, you might decide to change careers, you're always learning and doing new things. But of course, when you're in the hubbub of a school, all the time, that isn't the way isn't the way it comes across. And like you say, then it gets a bit harder than I think both in from a parent point of view and a teacher point of view, about knowing what that feeling is when you feel like you're not good enough, or you're not able to get the results that you need. And it's really interesting that there was one day, I was being asked to come on a few podcasts and sort of chat about what I do. And I was in the car, my daughter, we were coming back a gymnastics session, I said lucky being asked about all these things, you know, you tell me from a child's point of view, you know, what is it that I do? You know, how does it kind of work? And so we were talking about education on fire, and she said, Well, you know, the thing is really important because it sort of gives you that sense of kind of ambition and the lighting of a fire and not a filling of a pail which is one of the quotes that I use all the time. So can you can go any direction, whatever. And so we started talking about sort of how these things are put together. And purely came from her, which I thought was fantastic. And she said, Well, how about sort of breaking it down so that the F became feedback, the I became inspiration. And then the R became resilience. And the E became empowerment. And I said, Well, that's fantastic. Because all of these things then become positive, you need the feedback in order to be able to grow, you want to be inspired, but so very well being inspired. But then when things don't happen, you need the resilience in order for that to come through. But you also want to know that your parent and your teacher and the people that are supporting you, are going to empower you, because that isn't about the fact that you got 10 out of 10. In a test, it's the back the fact that maybe you didn't get 10 out of 10. But that doesn't matter. Because how you can learn and how you can improve or maybe that test is wasn't your test, and it doesn't matter because there's a million other tests that you're going to do. But then by sort of breaking it down into those areas, everything then becomes a positive, it doesn't matter about what's happening. Now. They're just all a succession of knives, which when you put it into place, of course, your life then develops, which as a child, is we talked about the toddler, you know what you're doing that naturally, you're not thinking about all those things. And I think as a parent, specifically, if you can create that environment, whether you're in school or not, it means that you can kind of set yourself up in such a way that you're only ever going to thrive, even if things are hard, and we will have seasons in life. And that's certainly true for young people as well. But it just means that as the season goes by sometimes everything seems to be working brilliantly sometimes is a little bit hard. Sometimes life just knocks us off our feet a little bit. But we have this sense of Oh, what have I learned from this? Where am I trying to go? Am I inspired in this way, and someone really got my back. And I think within those sort of four words, you can kind of encapsulate everything that you need, and then you feel like you've got your own back then, because there's something there that can really help you. And I think that becomes much more natural as you go through. And I think if you can continue that certainly as a parent to when they become teenagers. And then obviously, they know that sort of really getting themselves in a position where they're trying to look after their own lives, they feel like they've got those sort of support network in place, that can then sort of take that step forward without thinking now I don't know anything, I need to go back to square one, because they've constantly learned through all of these different experiences.

DJ Stutz  22:11  
What a creative brilliant daughter, you have to come up with that. Wow. And that's pretty amazing, too. So here in the United States, children are expected to be reading at a certain level at the end of kindergarten, I have feelings about that. So we know that children will start reading when certain synapses start firing off in their brain. And we can push those synapses to start firing off. But then there's a long term consequence to that. So some kids, this, those synapses might be firing off at age for others. And it's within the realms of normality, that they don't fire off until maybe they're eight, seven, or eight. And so when they're in kindergarten, and some kids, those synapses are firing away, right, but this child or group of children, they're not, they start getting labeled, oh, you're not a read, or you are needing extra help. And then the kids start putting labels on themselves. I'm dumb, I can't do this. And they start believing that about themselves. And then I don't know how they do it in UK, but most often, they'll get assigned a reading specialist. And so then they're pulled out of their classroom, to go in to work with this reading specialist. All the other kids see them having to get up, leave the room because they need extra help because they can't read yet. Yet. It's like getting mad at a young girl because she's 13 and hasn't started her period yet. Synapses haven't fired off, hormones aren't working yet. In my family that tended to happen really later on than what most girls were going through is the same thing with reading. Just because they're not reading in kindergarten doesn't mean that they're never going to get it that they're always going to be a poor reader, unless they start believing that about themselves.

Mark Taylor  24:30  
I think that's one incredibly true, but I think also it's where as adults, our job really comes into focus for the young people that are in our lives. Because what you have to remember is, is that I think a lot of times, especially in schools is that while with the greatest respect, they're trying to do the best for the children that they have. They have so many pressures about what they have to do, from a government point of view or a state point of view. You know, they're tick boxing, all of that kind of stuff. And within those constraints, they're true. I tend to give that supportive loving, sort of environment that we've been talking about. And I think one of the things that certainly worked for me and my wife, I think, when we were chatting to our kids about this, because they were three very different education experiences, because we had two girls and a boy, for example, and their interests were different and different schools and that kind of thing. But it was the fact that once you realize that the school is doing what it has to do as a school. And yes, it had fantastic opportunities and support and that kind of thing. But that's what the school is there to do. But you have to within your life, we have our family life, we're learning in the way that we are, we're sharing experiences in this way. You've got you know, gymnastics, or football or music and all those sorts of different curricular and extracurricular things that they were really interested in. And if you can see all of these different things, making you as a whole, then School is one part of that. And that's obviously quite hard for for young people to sort of get their head around. But the more you sort of talk about it, not as a kind of, we need to sit down and make sure you understand this, but just general ongoing conversations about how life all fits in, I think that really starts to help. And the thing I was I think is really difficult for young people is the fact that, of course, you're in school for so long. So we're hearing one thing for six or seven or eight hours a day, of course, it's going to take you gotta take it on board, because you haven't you've been told for so long, for five days a week, over however many years, which is why I think the regular conversations are really important. I know certainly car journeys are brilliant situations where you can just talk about all sorts of things, you can throw in the odd comment, you can sort of get some feedback, it's something I think about the staring forward rather than having to sort of sort of have a conversation eyeball to eyeball as it were. And I know certainly our family, we always have meals and things together. But there are some meals where it's all very relaxed, and all sorts of conversations come out about what's happened at school. And we have a joke about this teacher or this situation. And we go yeah, they're just doing this, they were obviously stressed today, because they're headed to Parliament was on their backs. Exam marked in or whatever. Or, you know, we had a fantastic lesson because our science teacher sort of threw something across the classroom. And we would talk about forces in this, there's obviously the whole mix depends on any given day. But I think when you can sort of have that sort of really broad experience, they're really broad conversations. And as they get older, obviously, the focus of those conversations change, the more in sort of, sort of, the more mature they become, and the more they can understand and you kind of adapt that as they are, then I think the more and more they start to see where they fit in all these different organizations that are going on in their life. And I think that becomes a very productive thing then. And, of course, as we said, Every child is different. Not everyone understands it in that way. But I think that's where, like you said, we have to put our focus depending on what the child needs, you know, how much information how much support how much general kind of extra things you put in play, give them what they need. But I think it's kind of a sort of a broad kind of tapestry of how it certainly worked for us. I think from that sort of young person point of view, those broad conversations have been really helpful.

DJ Stutz  28:02  
I agree very much. So the way that I ran my classroom very much it was that all things are integrated. So you need reading with math, you need numbers was science you need reading was science you need. It's all integrated. But this works also with those extracurricular activities as well. So they're struggling with math, and let's say they are in kindergarten, and they're trying to get their greater than less than all of that stuff, but they're really into football in your world soccer, right? And, yes, well, I guess my world had soccer your world. But and whatever sport where they keep score. And so now they're learning because now it means something to them. And so if I have a greater score than the other team, I'm the winner. And when you can make those associations with something that they are involved in that they love, and it crosses over from maybe one subject to another subject that they do really well with. So maybe they can do some reading. They get to learn basic words with whatever they're involved in outside of school. And it's like, wait, you just read that? How did you know that? You're first on the lineup or however it works, that kids pick up on things, when they're involved and interested in it's meaningful to them. So when you can cross that and show them you know how to do this, look at you. I'm so proud of you. Not if you can do it here. You can do it there. Well, you know, you don't want to but you want to be supportive and excited and I can't wait to tell your teacher you knew this, it really brings around that psychological difference in how they look at themselves, and how they look at education.

Mark Taylor  30:11  
Yeah, I mean, if you'd let me get back to that sadhna scenario, again, you know, you're counting because you're walking up the number of steps, you know, you're looking at aside and you're showing them this, you're not trying to teach them anything. You're just constantly talking and explaining. And I think like what you said there I loved because it said, Is it a little bit like that kind of how did you read that? Well, I was actually just reading the recipe because we're making something together. And we were weighing something out. And we were looking at the numbers to see how much water or compare, or how many eggs do we need for this, or how many grams do we need, or whatever it happens to be. But there's all that said, it's all just part of life on that be given that given day in that particular thing. And I think that's, that's where really great learning happens. And that's where we goes back to that community idea, you know, if you can have that community, because you're learning something because you go into a local shop, or you're able to go to the park, or you've one of the parents happens to have a job where they can bring something in or take you somewhere, which is something that you've heard of, or that you know, it all becomes part of that natural expansion of your life. And I think it can work in so many different ways. But I think exactly what you said, as soon as it's relevant to you, as a young person, it stops being about I'm now learning and I'm now going into school, or I'm now having to do something extra. All I'm doing is just immersing myself in life. And then that has a very different feeling, I think both for them, and also for the adults that are looking after them

DJ Stutz  31:31  
a grade a grade. And so what are some of the things that you see that you've worked to help implement in schools or different ideas that you've gotten that have helped push kids along in that positive manner?

Mark Taylor  31:50  
I think anything you can do, which gives opportunity. And I think also, I think you alluded to this before, in terms of it needs to be authentic as well, because it's very easy to get into that. We need to do X, Y, or Zed. And it looks like this tagline, or looks like this tagline. And so therefore, they certainly as a parent myself, it's one of the things where I'd have a conversation with this kind of, you know, you're saying that the whole child is important in every area of the curriculum is important, until you suddenly realize that maybe this results in any work quite so good to therefore you decide to do not do PE for this month, because we need to do more English. Well, I think most of us know that actually, that breath is important. Because we need the running around, we need the perspective, we need the fact that just doing something and finding harder doesn't necessarily help. It's that kind of balance of everything that you do. And I think what I tried to do with my sort of musical expertise was kind of, I am a parent, I'm able to come in to school, for example, I can do a music workshop I can do I can do a samba session, you know, we can do it at different levels across the school, I know you don't normally do this, you might do fantastic music, and certainly my kids primary school, up to sort of age 11 had some fantastic opportunities. But as a professional musician, I was able to kind of give it that extra thing. One of the things that we did is part of the curriculum for primary you have to study World War Two. And at the time, myself and a friend had a at a music education company. And part of what we did with apart from rhythm workshops was actually to put on theme singing concerts. And so we brought together my sort of expertise as a musician and brought lots of my friends in and created a band. And we basically gave them all the resources and the opportunity to learn World War Two songs. And so we took them into a theater. And they had the chance of learning those things, listening to a live band, which they wouldn't have necessarily seen before being able to perform in a theater to their parents and all the adults in their life. And so it's just that kind of, you know, what can you bring to the party, whatever that party happens to be in school, out of school around school, but I think just this is me, and I'm not trying to do your job, oh, I'm not trying to do it in a what I deemed to be a better way. I'm just saying this is who I am. And if you'd like to do this, or let's have it Yes, well should start with let's have a conversation about what I can do to help because I want to give all the children that are involved within the school system, which I'd love my children to be able to do. And I can do this, there's no way I'm going to be able to take in anybody on a PE expedition and take them up a mountain, because that really isn't my bag. But there's probably a mate of mine down the road that kids you know, and his cousin this year and whatever. And I think whatever it happens to be that you can do, then like it gets back to that community feel of just kind of well, there's options here. We know we want to be able to cover this part of the syllabus in this part of the syllabus and all these different things and we have to make sure that we've ticked box all those things that we've said before, but how you go about, you bring these things in and how you frame it, then all of a sudden, you know, you're in a whole different world. We're all excited about what we're able to create for everybody.

DJ Stutz  34:50  
I really love the way that you brought up this part of community where you might not be the guy to take them up the mountain for a PE exercise It could also be a geological exercise, it could be a history exercise, you're bringing all of these things together. But you said you might not be the guy to do that. But you might have a friend down the street, who can. And I really appreciate that feeling of community and getting people who perhaps don't have kids involved in that school or at that age, but they still have something to offer. So the last two years that I taught school, I was actually teaching a special needs pre K, getting them some extra tools and experiences so that they can be more successful once they hit kindergarten. And our class was classroom B. So we designated ourselves the busy bees. But I had a friend and their kids are all grown. They have grandkids older than the kids. I'm teaching, right. But he's a beekeeper. And so they came in, they put on his whole beekeeping outfit, and his wife had a little bee costume. They talked about what's the job of the Queen, and how does the hive work and only the female bees can sting you, the guys don't have stingers and just all of this great information. And the kids were just pulling it all in, because we're the biz bees that you know what I mean, and they were connecting with it. They had no other connection to the school other than they were my friend. And I lived in an entirely different county than where I taught. So when you can connect the community and get them involved as well, whether you have a shopkeeper that can take a group of kids and show them how a shop works and how you have to accept deliveries of merchandise and how do you keep track of what do you need more of and what is selling best? All of those business things, but they're they're seeing it in action. They're touching and feeling. What a great way to have that whole community feel that we are invested in these education's?

Mark Taylor  37:19  
Yeah, I think that's really true. And what struck me there was, as you were talking is that this is really the same thing. If you jumped forward a few years, you know, this is what you're doing. Now, as part of your podcast, one week, you might be talking about grief, another time, you might be talking about creating a drumming program for you really young children, whatever it happens to be, you're kind of the conduit, you're the person that's able to bring that community together. Because everyone listening is actually saying I'm part of this community, I'm actually wanting to learn all these different things. Because on one day, I need that support. Because I wanted an activity with my child, sometimes I'm going through something which might be really, really upsetting and tragic, and you know, might be a loss in your life, and I need that kind of thing. But what you're able to do is to bring all of those things together. And I think that's why being able to do it in school is so fantastic. Because it kind of starts to model that sense of, we don't know what's the next stage or the next thing we're going to do. But we know if we do it together, if we share these stories, if we if we kind of bring everyone into our lives, we'll meet the right person and have the right conversation and do the right thing at the right time. And I think I think that's a that's a lovely thing to do. And it's why I love podcasts in general. But it's also why I really like what you're doing because it's able to, you know, my conversation is someone living in the UK talk about music, and my experience of education is obviously very different than the US system. But I think what we're talking about is a much more kind of learning experience. And that's human to human that's kind of an essence of what we're all about. And I think that becomes very supportive for for everyone, because we're all part of this community that we're sharing now about, which is just, you know, how can we look after the young people in our lives.

DJ Stutz  39:01  
I believe that with all my heart, and I think that it might help us when we have community coming in. And Mr. Fletcher, who owns the record, shop, record shop, look how old I am, who owns the music shop, and has all of these great instruments and he comes in and he shows us different things. I have an affinity I have a love for that person for coming in and spending that time with me. So later on, as I grow up, I might find out he has some different political or social beliefs than I do. But he was that cool guy that came in? Do you see what I'm saying? And so we can build on what brings us together, the goodness of our humanity, when we do have that community involvement all the way through

Mark Taylor  40:00  
I think it also is important to remember that the breadth of who we are because I think what you said about the shop thing is really key because you know, I like this person, because if I want to like say go and buy a record,

DJ Stutz  40:13  
I know it's coming back.

Mark Taylor  40:17  
You know, and you're gonna be my best friend for those few minutes, because we're going to talk about our favorite albums and the record sleeve and everything else gonna then not like you anymore, because actually, the next thing on my shopping list is going to the butches, I take you for what you have to offer. And we have that shared experience. And I've bought a record. And I love that. And now I'm going to go and speak to someone who has something else in my life that I need help with. And I think I think that's true or on a kind of a personal level, you know, I'm going to play football with my friend because he loves playing football. But actually, he also likes playing tennis, so I'm not so bothered about tennis. So we'll play football together when that's on the agenda. And when he wants to go and play tennis, I'll go and find someone who's playing chess, because that's my other passion or whatever it happens to be. I certainly with my kids is that kind of you know, there's sometimes it's all about the sport, sometimes it's all about the music. And sometimes they have friends in common that do it both. And sometimes they're completely sort of chalk and cheese, but they sort of find the people in gravitate to what they need on any given day. And I think what you said about the fact that it might be kind of fisticuffs now, and then, you know, half a day later, it's best friends is because that's, well, that's the emotion it was there, that was fine. And you should have emotions, and it should just be real, but then it disperses. And then you're back to your true self. And then the next thing happens. And I think that's something is I think we find hard as adults. And I think we could learn a lot from actually seeing what young people are actually modeling for us from that point of view, which I guess takes us into a whole different podcast.

DJ Stutz  41:41  
It does. It does. And that would be a fun podcast for me. But yeah, and I even think back on, I'm a very faithful person. But there's a scripture in the Bible that just says, and a little child shall lead them. And I think so often, we as adults really need to look at kids and how they forgive one another how they move forward, how they can support one another and learn from them. Kids forgive quickly, it's an amazing thing to watch. And it's part of why I love working with the little guys so much as they offer such great examples of that community and of that supporting of one another and forgiveness. It's funny, gosh, it's been six years, probably now, I had a little boy in my class who was super violent. If someone had the marker he wanted, he would just grab a pencil and stab them in the hand to get the marker from them. You know, I mean, it was it was tough. But yet, he had this kind heart. On the opposite side of that he was a great Little Reader, super reader. And so I could set him up with someone who was really struggling with reading, and you would see this tender side come out and how patient he was with a child who wasn't quite getting it. And I even heard him say one time, let's try this a different way and going with that. And it was just so inspiring to me, and was that child afraid of him when he came over? Could have been, but they weren't, they knew that when he was there to help, they were safe, and they could work together. So even though the same child that would physically hurt them, they were still open to here's what you have to help me with. And I'm going to accept you and accept that he shined with that. What great things that we can learn from adult as adults from our kids.

Mark Taylor  43:51  
And I think you've given them the opportunity to do that as well, like it's a person that enable that you know, you you're not the person, you're never doing anything with anyone again, because you might hurt them. But actually, it kind of goes back to what I said about one of the things I hear a lot is that sense of one of the greatest teachers that people remember the ones that saw them, you know, you saw the child that has all of these skills, and gave him the opportunity to be able to help another child, you know, you didn't see the person is always going to hurt someone because of course, that's just a behavior based on who knows there's background in their situation or their frustrations or what they're kind of playing out. But the more you can give them the environment where they can step into who they really are and how they can help others, then that's going to change and that kind of positive reinforcement is going to be great for them but also for the people that they're interacting with as well.

DJ Stutz  44:44  
Exactly. Yeah, that's why I loved being with the little guys there. kick in the pants. They're just a lot of fun. Well, what are some ways if our listeners want to contact you? How can they get a hold of you and Get your podcast.

Mark Taylor  45:01  
So education on fire is available on whichever platform, you listen to podcasts. And so everyone listening here obviously has their favorite. So yeah, just search for education on fire and, and our home on the internet. And it's education on

DJ Stutz  45:16  
And so they can go there and maybe Email your questions. And

Mark Taylor  45:21  
for sure, there's a contact page on there as well. And from there, you can click straight through to whichever platform you can get in touch with me, you can keep in contact, there's also a chance to get onto my mailing list. And from there, you get the all the details have been able to join our private Facebook group as well when we sort of talk and chat around some of the things that we've been doing too. But yeah, if you go to education on, that kind of leads you into all the directions that you can get involved and find out more.

DJ Stutz  45:46  
Awesome, I love it. So I always end my podcast with this same question from my guests. And that is, how would you describe a successful parent?

Mark Taylor  45:58  
I love the fact that people have the opportunity to have so many different answers with the same questions. Yes, I think it's a brilliant way to finish off. And for me, I think I feel like I'm the most successful when I meet a child where they are. And so that works in many different ways. It can be an age related thing, it can be an expectation related thing, it can be an emotional situation, but if you can meet them where they are, and allow them to sort of show you the way or show you what they need, then everything becomes much more productive and much more kind of supportive in that human to human way. So yeah, I think if you can meet anybody, but certainly your children where they are at any given time, whether it's age, emotion, or situation, I think you have that shared bond there, which then shows you the way to move forward or more importantly, just to be present, wherever that happens to be.

DJ Stutz  46:52  
Yep, that is true. And that's true for teachers, as well as parents, meeting the kids where they are and not worrying about you should be reading this or that or you should know this math, but well, okay, that's a goal. But where are you now? And what's the next step? And that's really the only way you're gonna get them to that goal. Well, Mark Taylor, thank you so much for spending this time with us. We could go on for so much longer. I'm really enjoying our conversation. But I really appreciate the time that you've chosen to dedicate to my listeners here.

Mark Taylor  47:30  
Well, TJ, thank you so much for having me on. As you said, I think we could have probably chatted certainly all night for me, early on afternoon for you. But I think these conversations are so important. And I just I love the work that you're doing. And I really appreciate all the time and effort you're putting in to share this fantastic content with everyone listening. So yeah, really appreciate it.

DJ Stutz  47:48  
Well, thank you. And I'm sure we'll connect again at some point. When the community is involved in helping our children shine, the world becomes more open to possibilities, rather than being divided by ideologies. And I just love what Mark is teaching, give his podcast a listen. And then if you like it, go ahead and bless him with a five star review as well. And if you're interested in finding Mark and Education On Fire, all the contact info is there in the show notes. 

So I've been promoting this, but I want you to remember that during the month of September 2022 I am trying something new and I am also doing a live session on Wednesdays on Instagram. So remember, I'm still doing my Facebook every Tuesday night at seven mountain time. So the new podcast comes out on Mondays. And that gives you a chance to listen and then join in on one of the lives to ask questions and share stories and your thoughts about that episode. And it's a lot of fun. My handle on both Facebook and Instagram is Imperfect Heroes podcast. And next week I am talking with Sherrie Barch, on helping children through the various causes of grief in the child's life. So until next time, let's find joy in parenting.

Transcribed by

Mark TaylorProfile Photo

Mark Taylor


Mark has been a professional percussionist for 25 years and has had the opportunity of performing with some of the UK’s finest orchestras and theater companies. Finding his passion and ‘voice’ through music gave Mark the desire to share this understanding through his drum and percussion teaching which he provides in schools and in his private practice.

Each person has their own interests to follow and story to tell. However there are some common threads of knowledge and wisdom that sparked a flame in Mark to find out more - a desire to share these ideas with the world.

This was the beginning of his podcast Education on Fire. Mark interviews educators from around the world so that he can enable you to support your children to live, learn and grow to their full potential.

Having spoken to over 250 guests Mark uses these insights to support teachers and parents in his role as vice-chair of the National Association for Primary Education a non-political charity in the UK.