Science Education Professor Christopher Emdin from Columbia University has teamed up with GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan (who left school in 10th grade) with the purpose of improving science academic achievement for underserved populations. Together, along with the popular hip-hop lyrics Web site Rap Genius, they will work on a project to use hip-hop to teach science in 10 New York City public schools. “Dr. Emdin, who has written a book called “Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation,” hopes to change the way city teachers relate to minority students, drawing not just on hip-hop’s rhymes, but also on its social practices and values”.
This is a perfect example of using what students bring to the classroom to make education relevant to them. According to Henry Giroux (2004), students bring “public pedagogy”, which is the type of learning that takes place outside of schools. This pedagogy needs to be recognized by educators. As Foucault (1977) once said, some “knowledges have been disqualified as inadequate…[and] located beneath the required level of cognition”. When educators see children as bringing something valuable into the classroom, when what they bring is appreciated and built upon, the learning possibilities are endless. Educators and policy makers need to stop viewing certain populations of students as having a deficit. When students are valued and their interests are encouraged, learning happens almost effortlessly.
(Picture from NY Times article)