As a mother of a student who hated poetry when they were in the  7th grade, I knew I had to do something to pique his interests.  When I asked a teacher friend for suggestions they said to find some rap lyrics to liven up the learning experience for the metaphor and simile section.  He said after all, one can only take so much of Shakespeare and Dickinson before they’re totally bored with poetry.

So that’s exactly what I did. I pulled lyrics from artists like Nas, Will Smith, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def and even Jay Z. But I did make sure the lyrics weren’t anything raunchy. Unfortunately, a Virginia teacher who tried to incorporate rap into their poetry lessons is learning that not everyone is going to embrace those learning tactics, especially if the lyrics are from a Lil Wayne song. 

Parents at Falling Creek Middle School in Chesterfield, VA parents are outraged after finding out their children were exposed to Lil Wayne lyrics in a poetry lesson involving metaphors .

One concerned relative felt the lyrics glorified guns, sex and violence.

“I don’t understand that,” said a relative of a student and school activist Tammy Motola. “I don’t understand what she was thinking.”

 Motola took issue with the following lyrics:
Young Money, syrup in the big shot
Time do things that’s word to your wrist watch
Shoot the glock till it burn till my wrist lock
Rims hella big tires skinny like Chris Rock
“You don’t give someone in 6th grade homework assignments and say give me a metaphor for that,” said Motola. “You are asking for trouble.”
According to NBC12, once confronted about the assignment, the principal of the school had the teacher send home a new poetry packet without rap lyrics.
“The school administration is working directly with the parent and this issue has been addressed,” said Chesterfield spokesperson Shawn Smith.
In addition to parents, one student found the assignment distasteful.
“It was just bizarre,” said the student who did not want to be identified. “No one our age should be hearing this music and listening to the lyrics.”
“There should be consequences for this,” said Motola. “I’m dead serious about that. I’m not going to go away. I’m not going to stop until she receives the discipline that she deserves for this. Students would be disciplined for this type of behavior.”
I totally understand the parents concern, but I’m now the proud parent of a 9th grader who not only enjoys reading poetry but also writing. As he wrapped up yet another poetry module he thanked me for making it interesting when he was younger.  As for the teacher, next time maybe she should stick to rap lyrics that don’t make reference to guns and sipping syrup. At least that’s what I think “syrup in the big shot means”.
Tags: , ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • When I first got to college, I was a political science major because I wanted to be an attorney.

    In my English 101 class, my HIGHLY EDUCATED AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE professor had us write about “Money On My Mind” by Lil’ Wayne. The assignment made me (and my other classmates) look at writing and the English language differently.

    Parents have this fictitious world where students LOVE school and are being educated well. That’s not the case – we’re bored 90% of the time, our teachers are disconnected and don’t understand us or the things that are important to us, the teachers are burnt out or doing this solely for a paycheck – like so many other working Americans. In high school, I never thought I would be a writer, never thought I would even pass an English class and here I am 8 years later working on my doctorate with the goal of becoming an English professor. If left up to my high school English teacher, I would not be pursuing something I love.

    The teacher in this article has to rely on popular culture because the text books students learn from are outdated! Children are reading To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, and Lord of the Flies. And, while there is nothing wrong with these texts, the students cannot relate to them and they don’t feature any BLACK writers in English classes for youth. I studied Giovanni, Angelou, Anzaldua, Baraka, Hurston, Moraga and Hughes when I got to college. In primary and secondary school you don’t get the opportunity to study these works and it sucks, it’s systematic and designed to make children of color fail.

    Sixth grade is too young to be relying so heavily on hip-hop music to get kids to about English Literature/Language Arts, I get that, but the question is: Did the students learn? And if so, then I don’t think the teacher should be penalized. Besides, it’s not as if kids don’t know Lil Wayne’s lyrics or hear even more offensive language on the school bus.

    • Me

      i hate that argument that b/c kids “might” have already been listening or watching something bad or b/c they “might” be around other people that listen & watch bad things that the folks that should be guiding them should just throw out all morals & good sense & go with the kid’s examples instead of keeping things above ground. i don’t think it’s anything wrong w/using rap for a lesson or whatever but i would definitely be in the principle’s office demanding answers if they gave my kid some lil wayne to learn about. i don’t care if he’s the only interesting person left in the world. my kid’s teacher would just have to keep it 100% boring if that’s the only person she could think to get my kid excited about school. & i would have a fit if the teacher used some excuse like she heard the kids talking about him one day so she thought it would be ok. kids don’t set the standards. (i don’t have kids btw. ijs. if it was me…)

    • You might not like the argument, but it is a very valid one. The children around your children (if and when you have some) have just as much influence on your children as you do. If you don’t like it, then you’ll have to homeschool your children.

  • i also cringed when i read ‘lil wayne’ considering that there’s a wealth of young poets, especially performance poets that can help teachers with poetry.

    but on the other hand, i really don’t see analysing Lil’ Wayne lyrics as something wrong. I’m not sure how old Grader 6ers are in the US, in SA they are 13 and 12 which is young for Wayne lyrics. so in that regard the teacher should’ve looked up other rap lyrics.

    that said, those lyrics would be useful in a different class. i see a teachable moment there.