Yo-Yo Ma Visits the University of Chicago Charter School

September 9, 2010

On September 9, Yo-Yo Ma, one of the world’s most celebrated musicians, visited the University of Chicago Charter School Woodlawn Campus –  visiting classrooms, and speaking with students, faculty, and staff from the Urban Education Institute (UEI).

Mr. Ma’s visit culminates extended discussions between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Urban Education Institute. The aim is to build a new kind of institutional partnership to break new educational and artistic ground.

Speaking with enthusiastic staff and students, Ma stressed the importance of fostering imagination and passion in young people.

When Ma asked a group of students whether they had great imaginations, every student, even the most shy and reserved, raised his or her hand. Nodding with approval, Ma said, “A performer, just like a teacher, works to do something memorable—to make something alive in someone else so that person can connect and do something with it.” He discussed how imagination leads to big, breakthrough ideas and how teachers can develop rich and sophisticated imaginations using the visual arts and music throughout the curriculum.

At the close of the day, Ma spoke directly with teachers. “Remember you are doing the most important work that can be done, and the evidence – 98% of your first senior class going to college– is the greatest representation of the power of the work you have underway.”