GZA, Columbia Professor Bringing Hip-Hop to the Classroom

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As education continues to evolve, it has become a requirement for teachers to constantly be searching for new ways to engage their students in the many subjects that fill up a curriculum. For that reason, it seemed like a match made in heaven when Columbia University professor Dr. Christopher Edmin, a lifelong hip-hop fan, and legendary rapper Gza of the Wu-Tang Clan met this past summer as guests on a radio show in New York City.

According to the New York Times, the two began discussing the reasons why education appears to be failing to be educating African American students in science. According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, merely 4 percent of African-American seniors were proficient in sciences.

For years, Dr. Edmin has employed hip-hop into his classroom, but still felt there was more potential to inspire students using the music form. Meanwhile GZA, who had recently wrapped up a series of meetings with MIT physicists while researching for an upcoming solo album, had science fresh on his mind upon meeting Dr. Edmin.

Now, after a few months of deliberation, GZA and Dr. Edmin are preparing to launch a pilot project that uses hip-hop to teach science in 10 New York City public schools. Along with hip-hop lyrics site Rap Genius, the duo hopes to get students excited about science. Part of the project will require students to stand in a circle and take turns rapping, having to both utilize the rhymes of their peers and to create their own.

While the project is still in its early stages, GZA sees enormous potential. “You never know,” the rapper told the New York Times. “This could turn into something in the future as big as the spelling bee.”

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