Wednesday, January 15, 2003

School Daze
The American Prowler amuses with Dumbed Down and Dumber Still:
What qualifies as a "teaching tool" in California's public schools? Everything from condoms to hip hop to anti-war polemics. Students no longer have to wait until after school to wallow in youth culture. They can immerse themselves in it all day long -- and their teachers will cheer them on.
In the educational enlightenment of South Los Angeles, Crenshaw High School students don't have to turn off Tupac Shakur's "Shorty Wanna Be a Thug." They can listen to it in English class. Tupac is a teacher too, says Crenshaw English teacher Patrick Camangian. "In order for students to understand anyone else's poetic language, they have to first understand their own," he explained to the Los Angeles Times.

Such Shakur lines as "Blaze up, gettin' with hos through my pager" are rich with poetic meaning, says Camangian. And apparently more and more education schools agree. The Times reports that some are "training future educators to weave rap into high school lessons."
Sounds lyrical to me, but I wonder how the "hos" feel?
Hip hop is literature, a "worthy subject of study in its own right," say Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade and Ernest Morrell, who teach an English course at an Oakland high school. Student Lisa Moore nods in agreement. "As far as Shakespeare goes, we can't relate to that. We can relate to what's going on now," she said to the Times.

Students, according to one teacher, may even travel from Tupac to Twelfth Night and other older works. "When students see Tupac is writing about the same things that William Black wrote about, it suddenly makes the poetry of these old, dead white guys much more accessible," he says. This is ludicrous, but then teachers have to fake up some rationale for puzzled parents.
Ah yes, conning the marks. An important part of modern education. One can only hope that the tykes are studying up at Biz Wiz (via 3bruces) so that they can hold down a job in order to pay my Social Security benefits. I plan to enjoy their munificence lounging about listening to poetry:
Quincy T. Troupe became California's poet laureate after writing "Take It to the Hoop, Magic Johnson." He also penned a French rhyme about Michael Jordan. He got bounced from his position after Gray Davis aides discovered that he hadn't graduated from Grambling University, but his educational theories posed no problem. California teachers marveled at his bracing insights. One was that he didn't think California students needed to learn proper English. He wanted them to learn "American," reasoning that "We are speaking the American language. I know white people in the United States, especially the English people, are connected to the navel. A lot of people are not connected. The ones who came over from England are connected to the navel of England, the Queen and all that. I'm not connected to that."
Nifty! In California, you don't have to be literate to be poet laureate.