Dear Miss Swift,
My name is Daniel Scott, and I am an English teacher in China. I teach 5th and 6th grade, which seems to be a prime time for students to start listening to music in our language. (By the way, do you speak any other languages?) A majority of the boys listen to and recite Michael Jackson and Maroon 5 while the girls mention your name or lyrics often either in the classroom or on Chinese social media. Some of them went berserk when they heard you’d be coming to China, even if Shanghai is a two-hour plane ride from where we are in Qingdao.
Now, I work in a private Chinese school, and these children I speak of are almost all Chinese students with a few being Korean. Let that sink in, if it hasn’t already. I see you have 60 million+ Twitter followers (I’m not ashamed to be one of them). You have been nominated and won numerous awards while crossing genres. And there is a new line of clothing coming out on a couple shopping sites here in China (Smart move since much on those sites can definitely be fake). More important than all of these matters is the fact that you are impacting my students’ lives in what they say, how they feel, and what they will believe during their short times on Earth.
An article from the LA Times in 2011 quotes you from a “60 Minutes” interview where you said:
I definitely think about a million people when I’m getting dressed in the morning, and that’s just part of my life now. I think it’s my responsibility to know it and to be conscious of it. It would be really easy to say, ‘I’m 21 now, I do what I want. You raise your kids,’ but it’s not the truth of it. The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation, so make your words count.
Four years later, how do you think you are doing? I am not calling you out. As a teacher (Shoot, even when I was in elementary), I was guided in how to reflect, journal, and change who I was for the better. Why? John Maxwell says, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Today’s world is quite different from the past. What I want for my students are updates somehow about what you are learning and how you are growing as a person, written by none other then you but not in songs or tweets (though I have agreed with my students that you are a master with lyrics). What do you think?
Being a teacher for only five years, one thing has stuck in my mind since year one. Relationships are the most important factor for any learning to take place. My students listen to your songs, watch the music videos or concert snippets, and share them with whoever they are connected with on the outlets here. What they do not see or hear is how your heart has transformed over time. What if the students could learn more from you? What deeper impacts could you make from your platform? Though I know you do not make political statements because of your influence, you would not have to. Your actions have shown some of who you are, but what we want to hear are more learning experiences that happen. Because, Miss Swift, you are important. You are impacting future generations worldwide. You matter.
I hope you do not take this letter lightly because I have put my heart into it. Why? Because I am in China for the students, no matter where they come from. They matter, and I love them.
Thank you for any time or thoughts you may have. I hope the best for you and your future.
P.S.- If you find any time after your November 12th show to visit Qingdao, please let me know. My students and I would be more than willing to guide you through the city, culture, and people.