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Popular Music Has a Place in the Classroom

January 28, 2010 05:17 PM
by Colleen Brondou
Students in Milwaukee have remade Beyonce’s hit “Single Ladies” into “Scholar Ladies,” showing how popular music can inspire in the classroom.

“Scholar Ladies” Video Takes YouTube By Storm

When HOPE Christian School English teacher Megan Huff and her middle school students were preparing for a talent competition, they decided to take Beyonce’s song, “Single Ladies,” and transform it into a music video called “Scholar Ladies.

“Instead of singing about seeking an engagement ring, the girls boast with attitude about earning top grades, preparing for college and staying free of trouble,” Lolly Bowean writes for the Chicago Tribune. Huff wrote the lyrics and students tried out for different parts.

“It inspires kids to see it’s cool to be smart and reach goals,” Charmaine Taylor, a sixth-grader who is a backup singer in the video, told Bowean.

Huff and her class hope the video will get a million page views on YouTube. “We secretly hope Beyonce will see it,” she told the Chicago Tribune, “but we are trying to keep our heads on straight and stay focused on academics even with this attention we’re getting.”

Background: Using music in the classroom

As Teachers Magazine, a U.K. publication, points out, music has been used for centuries to pass on knowledge from one generation to the next, and has frequently been used in foreign language classrooms. Now, other teachers are taking note and using popular music as a learning tool

“Music—particularly a good pop song—is a really good tool in teaching,” Claire Monaghan, a primary school teacher in the U.K., told Teachers Magazine. She thinks analyzing song lyrics, just as one would analyze poetry, can help “students develop essential research, writing, critical thinking and media-literacy skills.”

Music can be used to teach other subjects, too. Blake Harrison and Alex Rappaport, cofounders of Flocabulary, use hip-hop to make education more fun. By weaving words into rhymes with infectious beats, Harrison and Rappaport knew they could engage students and ultimately teach them something. Their first CD, released in 2004, put vocabulary words in context, helping prepare students for the SATs. Since then, they’ve developed programs for teaching world and U.S. history, math, science and even Shakespeare.

Related Topic: “Twilight” in the classroom

Popular music isn’t the only art form to make its way into the classroom; “The Twilight Saga” of books has worked its way into some school curriculums as well. Although the series is wildly popular with teens, some teachers and librarians have condemned the books, saying that their sexual undertones aren’t appropriate for the classroom. Others contend that even resistant readers have responded to the books, making them a valuable learning tool.

Reference: Music Web guide

Use the findingDulcinea Web Guide to Music to learn where to buy music online, listen to music, discover new music and even make music.

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