Thursday, March 15, 2007

Employment Law Work Songs to Use in Class!

Befort_stephen_2006_152x190 Steve Befort (Minnesota), the hippest guy in the labor and employment law professor world (barring Alex Long maybe), writes:

For a number of years I have thought about playing selected work songs in the classroom prior to the beginning of class. During the fall 2006 semester, I finally pulled it off. I copied songs onto audio discs and embedded links to the songs on my power point slides. I would then play one of the songs at about 3-5 minutes before the start of each Employment Law class session. I tried to match up songs with the subject matter of the particular class (e.g., Allentown and plant closings), but most of the time I figured that any song about work would do. I had a few technological miscues along the way, but for the most part it worked out quite well.  The students generally seemed to like it, or were at least mildly amused. I asked for student song ideas and got several suggestions, which resulted in a playlist that was not as badly dated as initially compiled.

Now that sounds like one fun employment law class. Here is the list of the songs employed (get it? (moan)).

Steve would like to hear if others have any suggestions to add to the list and would be happy to share technical information about how to embed links on power point slides.


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Best teaching tool ever! Bonus points for the great Belle & Sebastian song, although deductions for making me remember that awful Loverboy tune. Seriously, excellent list, and I'm going to try to check out the ones I don't know.

Here are some others, divided into "definite work songs" and "at least some connection" songs:

Definite work:

"Mr. Sellack" -- the Roches
"Minimum Wage" -- the Bus Boys
"We Can't Make it Here" -- James McMurtry
"Lotteryland" -- Richard Thompson
"Piecework" -- the Proletariat
"Factory" -- Springsteen
"Youngstown" -- Springsteen (either original acoustic or live rocked-out version)
"Which Side Are You On?" -- Rock-ish version by Billy Bragg or even harder version by the Dropkick Murphys
"Keep on Working" -- Pete Townshend
"Hump Day" -- Tin Huey (obscure but great)
"Working John, Working Joe" -- Jethro Tull

Work-related content:

"Options" -- Proletariat
"We Live as We Dream (Alone) -- Gang of Four
"I've Come for My Award" -- the Beautiful South
"I Think the Answer's Yes" -- the Beautiful South
"Solidarity" -- Black Uhuru

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Mar 15, 2007 12:35:42 PM

What a great idea! I'm particularly fond of the cubicle song & powerpoint.

Posted by: Vanessa | Mar 15, 2007 3:13:23 PM

"Parade" -- Pretty Girls Make Graves (the parade is a strike)

Posted by: Jeff Hirsch | Mar 15, 2007 3:28:14 PM

I used to use the lyrics to Youngstown as one of the class readings in my Law & Economics class about plant closings, as reading accompanying the 6th Circuit case rejecting the union's common-law claims that had sought to stop the plant closing.

Posted by: Scott Moss | Mar 16, 2007 5:49:00 AM

Excellent post. This is very timely because I'm teaching a labor relations class this semester and wanted to use some traditional folk songs with a union slant. Before I go back into the archives of American Folk songs, does anyone have some other ideas of artists and titles outside of Woody Guthry for us labor types?


Also- there are some Phil Collins songs (I think on the Testify CD about coal minors).

Posted by: Mel DImeny | Mar 16, 2007 6:05:20 AM

Triple word score for the Jonathan Richman cite. Just add the Bottle Rockets' "Gotta Get Up" for an explanation of the forty-hour work week and you have a near-perfect list.

Super cool bonus points to Joe Slater for the Dropkick Murphys reference. And Gang of Four? Wow.

Posted by: Alex Long | Mar 24, 2007 6:40:56 PM

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