In an effort to help get students in New York schools more interested in science, the Wu-Tang Clan's GZA (also known as Gary Grice) has teamed up with Columbia University professor Dr. Christopher Emdin to begin using hip-hop as a teaching method in the classroom.
According to UK’s The Sun, Dr. Emdin started this project in the Bronx “to tackle poor science results among black and Hispanic students.”
“It’s not just a race thing – it’s also a cultural thing,” he said. “We should find new ways to capture the interest of a new generation. I think hip-hop is the way.”
He also said, “If you don’t bring in youth culture into the classroom, you exist in the space where you are only putting in an established culture and an established culture, necessarily alienates someone. The thing about science in particular is that historically, its been known as a discipline that is very Eurocentric and is completely divorced from the ways of knowing and being of a diverse amount folks.”
Dr. Emdin met GZA at a radio show hosted by the director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and after discussing their interests in science and hip-hop, decided to join forces and help each other bridge the gap between the two areas in the classroom.
“You never know, this could turn into something in the future as big as the spelling bee,” said GZA, who dropped out of high school in grade 10 and regards it as “one of [his] greatest regrets in life."
In January, 10 schools began using Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bringing Attention to Transforming Teaching and Learning and Engagement in Science) in the classroom and students seem to really enjoy this approach to teaching.
“We didn’t love science, we just loved the way he came about trying to teach you science,” student Stephanie Vasquez said. “He came about it in a good way, not like just bashing you in the head with a bunch of information. He tried teaching it in a fun way so that you actually understand.”
If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Emdin and Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S., head here.