Education Professor John Willinsky rocks free sharing in music and scholarship

Mayfield
John Willinsky’s band, Mayfield, is named for the formerly feisty community south of Stanford that boasted 13 saloons before being absorbed into the city of Palo Alto in 1925.

When JOHN WILLINSKY, the Khosla Family Professor of Education, came to Stanford a decade ago from Vancouver, Canada, he brought his leadership of the Public Knowledge Project, which promotes and studies the sharing of research and scholarship as a public good.

He also brought his electric guitar.

John Willinsky
John Willinsky

Today, Willinsky’s band Mayfield brings Graduate School of Education (GSE) students, staff and faculty together in a shared and evolving love of music, just as his work in open-access publishing unites researchers worldwide in a public commons of information.

Willinsky said his twin passions are closely intertwined: “What I know about guitar playing I’ve learned strictly from 12-year-olds’ freely sharing their chops on the internet. I’m an autodidactic player courtesy of their gifts – which, when it comes to sharing scholars’ work, is the subject of my research.”

Over the years, Mayfield’s successive iterations have crossed generations and drawn from each member’s musical interests, ranging from “My Funny Valentine” from the 1930s to recent hits by Pharrell Williams and Rihanna.

The current band lineup includes Willinsky on guitar; doctoral student NIDIA RUEDAS-GRACIA on vocals; ROB VAN WANDELEN on bass; BOB KAPLAN on drums; and GSE honors undergraduate AN NGUYEN on violin. Senior Associate Dean GEOFF COX plays trombone in guest appearances.

Members practice in Willinsky’s attic in Mayfield, a formerly feisty community south of Stanford that boasted 13 saloons before being absorbed into the city of Palo Alto in 1925 and that gave the band its name. Mayfield has played at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meetings, at GSE student and alumni events and, most recently, at the Dean’s Kickoff BBQ in September on campus.

Read the entire story on the website honoring GSE’s centennial.