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.
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”.