Rhetoric is arguably one of the most powerful tools at any human’s disposal. Very few people can be educated or persuaded using raw facts. The quickest way to bore someone is to throw an assortment of stats and meaningless definitions at them.
Better Writing Services sees increased online traffic and interest, as students are disengaged from the entire education process. They just want to buy a paper, turn in their homework, and be done with the whole ordeal.
This general fatigue and disengagement are why classroom raps can be important in modernizing and improving education.
Rhyme and reason
There is a reason why ancient sayings and proverbs often rhyme. It seems that the human mind has a much easier time remembering and storing rhymes and alliterations. We are attracted to anything that imposes a sense of rhythm.
Songs and poetry are some of the oldest examples. There is nothing new about using witty rhymes to promote values and content. Many students turn definitions and formulas into small poems to better remember them.
I distinctly recall doing so to the periodic table of elements when I could not simply memorize it on the go.
Relevance and counter-culture
While I generally write about college essay writing services, this is a topic that also deserves coverage.
As previously mentioned, most songs rhyme. But this article is not just about any songs, it is about using hip hop in the classroom.
I know that there is a distinction, but for the sake of brevity, we will be using the terms “hip-hop” and “rap” interchangeably in this article.
Most traditional songs use quite simplistic rhyme schemes, with the last words of a verse sounding the same (homophones). There are examples of more complex schemes throughout history.
Irish and Scottish folk songs often rely on tongue-twisters and memorization for their bar songs. Although this is not rap, there is a history of rhymes being the center of a song, with the instruments just providing the backdrop.
Teaching Hip Hop cannot be divorced from its American context. Similar to Heavy Metal and other genres, Rap is not just a musical style. It has become an entire subculture. It has its celebrities, legends, dress style, history, customs, movies, and more.
In a way, hip hop has become a victim of its success. It is so mainstream, that it has been integrated on a global level. Even normal pop songs feel the pressure to include a rap chorus just to boost sales.
This is similar to how every song, every movie, and most commercials had some form of rock guitar back in the 80s.
What does this have to do with schools?
Since its early days, rap has been perceived as a counter-culture. It may seem strange to modern rappers who make songs about being admired and rich, but there was a time when the music genre was seen as dangerous.
Many songs touched on complex social issues and showcased the life of what most people would consider an underclass. Ghettos and inner cities were despised and feared, and it was a surprise to anyone that stories about these areas would break through.
Now that we’ve established a backdrop, here are a few reasons why classroom raps can be used to educate students:
Class and ambition
The Movie Fight Club was very popular because it spoke to the problems of an entire generation of kids. Generation X was the first generation to grow up with divorce and the collapse of social structure. The movie channeled that anguish and sense of purposelessness.
Rap is similar because it channels the dreams and problems of another forsaken class of people. In its poorest forms, rap can be accused of being a masculine power fantasy. But a more charitable view will see it as a genre that promotes ambition. Many songs are about rags to riches. Many of the old school rappers themselves grew up poor, and on the streets.
Rap is seen as relatable by many kids, as by definition, most kids in any society will be poor or lower-middle class. Bragging and narcissism that often plagues rap is the gaudy celebration of a success story.
Seeing a rapper’s climb to success can ignite a fire inside a young and hungry teen. After all, the words “hustle” and “grind” are some of the most common terms in songs. Rap and hip hop are relatable while also sparking a spirit of ambition and self-confidence.
The Rule of Cool
Why do Jedi use laser swords instead of just shooting people? Why does Rambo use a bow and arrow? Why do anime characters use giant swords that disadvantage them in combat?
It’s all because of the rule of cool. Do not underestimate the power of something that is perceived as being cool. Hip Hop educational songs, especially if they are well-made, will be cooler than the alternatives.
I’m about to say something controversial, but young students are brilliant. The school system fails a lot of them because it acts as an assembly line. Bone-dry facts are shoved down their throats, and the students are punished if they can’t remember those facts on test day.
The human mind is horrible at memorizing details that do not interest us. It is an actual physiological response, not a choice of some lazy young people. Teachers must make things interesting.
This is why your average high school student has trouble memorizing a single schoolbook page, but he/she effortlessly can name entire discographies of song lyrics.
Most cannot remember anything but a bare-bones version of their nation’s history but can cite Middle Earth’s or Westeros’s history in detail.
This proves that the ability to understand and memorize is there.
But the latter examples are cool and interesting, while school info is about as interesting as your average Excel spreadsheet. Hip Hop teachers can change the game, given that “hip” factor.
This isn’t the first time that people tried to use rap as educational material. Back in the 90s, every school mascot and cartoon either had a skateboard or dressed in hip hop attire.
The result was perceived as forced, preachy and condescending. Not to mention cheesy. The popular meme of a 40-year-old dressed like a kid saying “How do you do, fellow kids” applies here.
School rapping has to respect the intelligence and maturity of its student listeners. It shouldn’t sound like a parody of itself. The reason why 90s pandering failed is that it was out of touch.
It was designed by suits in executive boardrooms who never spent a day in their lives standing in line, getting punched, or fearing their next rent payment.
By all means, use hip hop in the classroom. But remember to “keep it real”. Nothing is more cringe-worthy than an adult in authority trying to pander to a teen.