A couple of weeks ago National Public Radio, (NPR) featured a segment on a Maryland Math teacher who has made a connection to his students through rap music. The segment was titled ‘2 Pi: Rhymes And Radii‘ and in it Montgomery Blair School High Math teacher Jake Scott, rap alias 2 Pi, explains how he uses rap to sustain the attention of his students; teach quadratic equations and other complex math theorem; and sprinkle in public service type of announcements about personal behavior, relationships, and respect for parents. Scott explains that this generation is a generation with a short attention span, who is used to abundant and ever changing media to keep their attention. He makes use of rap as one of his tools to accomplish this feat, which can be daunting for any teacher today.
For Scott or 2 Pi, it is all about connection. He states that one of his most important goals as a teacher is to make meaningful connections with students. Talking about all the hurdles he faced and young people face today he says, “ …We can preach to kids until they turn blue and we turn blue, but if there is no connection, then there’s no response.” He also doubles as the school’s wrestling coach, an activity he credits as saving him from the negative outcomes of many peers who got involved in drugs and other criminal activity. Jake Scott made a profound connection with his wrestling team as a young adolescent who was veering down the wrong path quickly, something he desperately wants to offer his students and the team he coaches.
It sometimes takes that special teacher. For me, it was an English teacher named Miss Smith. She made this fledgling young writer feel confident and worthwhile in what she wrote and offered from her perspective in class. That translated far beyond junior English class and being sixteen years-old. Finding confidence in one area as a teenager and certainly as an adult can have such a ripple effect throughout life. No matter what I have done and what I do, writing grounds me and so meaningful to me.
If your student is struggling, perhaps she needs to connect with that one teacher, coach or tutor that makes her feel worthwhile. Maybe it is joining wrestling, art club, science club, or drama club that forges an increased connection to school and greater self-esteem. If there are barriers in these areas, I encourage you to break them and help deliver your child to the next level…