Hip-hop Hamilton

This could actually be a valuable tool for America’s frustrated high school history teachers. But I’m guessing it’s not.

I’m looking forward to Cash for Clunkers: The Musical.

(h/t: Kai Ryssdal)

  • sm

    If you think this could be a useful educational tool for high school history, well, as Ross Perot would say, that’s just sad.

    Has public education sunk so low that students learn best from hiphop and comic books? Is that the level schools have to stoop to now? Are there so many ineducable students that watching a screen replaces processing written text?

    No wonder we can’t compete educationally in the world. I only hope China is willing to take over this country when we default on our bonds and whips it back into shape. We should be so lucky.

  • Bob Collins

    SM, I notice in your comment you didn’t use the words “thou” or “thee” or “ye.”

    Communication changes. If it takes a hip-hop song to get kids to become more interested in history, what’s wrong with that? It’s not the total package, but why couldn’t it be a stimulant?

    When my youngest son was very young, he didn’t read very well. He tried. Lord knows he tried, but he just couldn’t master it.

    Until Harry Potter came along. Then he put it all together and he understood what books can do for you.

    Now fast forward 20-years. He’s the top of his class at school, his love of medicine and ability to comprehend what he’s reading have teamed up nicely and he’s working for Lifelink. and the other day, he told me, a woman died while they were transferring her.

    He saved her life.

    It all came back to a piece of popular culture that people would sniff at as being the mark of stupidity. Why, they would ask, don’t we just expect kids to listen to the teacher lecture about phonics, or just read by rote over and over, no matter how boring they think it is.

    I suspect the answer comes from the family of a woman who today aren’t attending her funeral.

  • Steve Fox

    Bob, interesting story but your math doesn’t add up. The first Harry Potter book was released only 12 years ago :)

    I’d also add that “Science Shows”, like the one the Engineering/Physics students at the University Center Rochester give, don’t teach much actual science, but it sure does get kids interested to look further.

  • Bob Collins

    //eleased only 12 years ago :

    Fine. Second grade. Fast forward 12 years.

    I learned math by having a boring teacher stand at the front of the class and drone on, because if it was good enough for my parents, it was good enough for me. What little interest I had in math I had only because I started calculating ERA and batting averages of baseball teams.

    So I went the literary route.

    Bottom line: Telling people how stupid they are is a really poor educational tool. Getting them excited and interested is a pretty good one.

  • Steve Fox

    To make sure, I’m agreeing with you. I hated history class because it was all just rote memorization taught without any relevance to modern affairs. I’ve never given a thought to Hamilton before, but this performance demonstrates he’s not just another boring dead guy.

  • Andy Shold

    My high school math teacher used songs to help us memorize basic formulas, like the quadratic equation. Set to the tune of “Pop, Goes the Weasel”: First you take the Negative B, Plus or minus square root, B squared minus 4 times A, C, All over 2A!

    I still remember it to this day, and can apply the formula whenever I need to. By the way, I’m an engineer, and it never ceases to impress my fellow co-workers/nerds.

    As William Butler Yeats is alleged to have said, “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.”

  • Kim E

    A little off-topic, but I love Lin-Manuel Miranda. The musical he wrote (pretty much by himself) is amazing, and I would expect nothing less than that if he wants to create a CD of songs dedicated to historical figures.

    I don’t see this as insulting a student’s intelligence or as a last-ditch attempt to teach “ineducable students.” It doesn’t have to be the whole story; no one’s life can be condensed into a 4-minute song. But if it gets students thinking and interested and gives them a jumping-off point, I don’t see the problem with this. Don’t be intimidated by change!

  • sm

    I’m not against the occasional novelty in school to pique interest. (In my day, films in class, now, who knows what) Or Tom Lehrer ditties to help kids learn math. But when kids expect to be entertained every day by school as they are in the rest of their life, that’s a problem.

    School is a job. It’s not meant to be constantly interesting to all students, or be absorbing and engaging, any more than jobs in adult life are. If some parts are fun, so much the better. But it’s the student’s job to absorb what is taught, however it’s taught.

    Public education, in theory, provides a common knowledge base for the citizenry. This becomes increasingly important in a media-fragmented society. Students who can’t master even the limited expectations of public education have a tough adulthood ahead.