Key and Peele on the sport of teaching

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Key and Peele on the sport of teaching

July 30, 2015 - Ryan Denison, PhD

Key and Peele sketch 'TeachingCenter' (Credit: Comedy Central via Youtube)

{source}<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #c0c0c0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/dkHqPFbxmOU?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}Key and Peele is a popular sketch comedy show on Comedy Central starting Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. While their language is, at times, of the not-safe-for-work variety, they often have a thought provoking way of addressing important issues with a levity that moves the audience beyond pre-conceived notions in order to get at the heart of the matter. A recent sketch titled “TeachingCenter,” a parody of ESPN’s SportsCenter, has garnered a good bit of attention and does just that.

The bit begins with a traditional SportsCenter inspired introduction leading into the day’s top story. Prized free agent and star English teacher Ruby Ruhf has finally made her decision on where she’ll be teaching next year. As the cameras zoom in, she calmly states “I’ve enjoyed my time in Ohio very much, but I’m pleased to announce that I’m taking my talents back to New York City.” She’ll be compensated quite well for her efforts with a guaranteed $80 million over 6 years and another $40 million in incentives based on test scores.

From there, they turn to the High School teaching draft where Central Rapids High, trying to recover after receiving the lowest test scores in the nation the previous year, has the first overall pick. They select Calculus teacher Mike Yost who, as Peele goes on to explain, “is an unbelievable story. His father living paycheck to paycheck as a humble pro football player. Kid was a natural mathlete.”

The sketch ends when Ruby Ruhf stars in the latest BMW commercial. Capitalizing on her teaching success, she has been chosen to be the newest spokeswoman to promote their all-new 6 series sedan, hailed as the new teacher’s pet.

Key and Peele’s gentle poke at our priorities hits home in part because it is funny but also because we know that, to some extent, it’s true. The idea of an English teacher being paid $80 million over 6 years with a chance to earn another $40 million if she can get her students’ test scores up (essentially the going rate for an above average Starting Pitcher) seems outrageous because even the best teachers often fail to make $40k a year.

However, this article is not meant to be an indictment of the education system or teacher pay, though that is a conversation that is probably worth having. Rather, as I watched this sketch multiple times (purely in the name of research I assure you…), what kept coming to mind was the way they were able to use their comedic gifts to make a common refrain seem different and new. As Robinson Meyer wrote for The Atlantic, “The plea that Americans care more about sports than civics is a common one…yet Key and Peele have managed to make it seem fresh through their sheer enthusiasm and attention to detail.”

How we present something often goes a long way in determining how it will be received. That is true of social critiques like teacher pay but it’s also true of the gospel. There has never been a more powerful message than the truth that God loves us so much that he was willing to watch his son die on a cross to pay for our sins and restore our relationship with him. But when was the last time you got genuinely excited about that? When was the last time you pondered Christ’s sacrifice and came away amazed? If the gospel doesn’t elicit a sense of awe in us, especially after experiencing what that restored relationship is like firsthand, why should we expect that it would in someone else?  

God has given each of us a unique testimony to share with others. No one will ever have the kind of relationship with God that you do because such a relationship is inherently personal. You are the child of God, created specifically by him to love him and relate to him as only you can. Just as every parent knows that no two children are the same, your walk with the Father is different than anyone else’s because you are different from everyone else. And what could be more amazing than the fact that the God of the Universe wants to have a personal and unique relationship with you?

So the next time the Lord gives you an opportunity to share the gospel with someone, think back on that relationship and know that what you’re inviting that person to experience is nothing short of a life-giving and unique relationship with our heavenly Father. That’s exciting stuff and our lives should reflect that excitement. Will yours?

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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