“This will enhance and complement the National Standards Curriculum. The curriculum focuses on different forms of delivery as you have to find different different students. Debate of negativity or positivity aside, what is important is the undoubted power dancehall has to connect and impact our young people how do we use it for good?”
Minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green on the launch of the JNSGJ (Jamaica National Foundation Science Genius Jamaica)
Reggae and Dancehall as a strategy to teach Mathematics and the Sciences may be the new paradigm in Jamaica.
If the Ministry of Education has their way, then the JNSGJ (Jamaica National Foundation Science Genius Jamaica) may become the next wave sweeping Jamaican secondary schools (Baines, 2017, February 23) next after the introduction of 17,500 Tablets under the Tablets in School Program (Bryan, 2017, February 14).
Minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, spoke on the JNSGJ (Linton, 2017, February 24) during the launch on Wednesday February 22nd 2017 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew yesterday. In collaboration with Professor at Columbia University, Dr Chris Emdin, the Ministry of Education has pioneered this stratagem to help in the delivery of the more difficult concepts in Mathematics and the Sciences. These science subjects include:
The JNSGJ Project, which has the support of Dancehall performers Tifa and Wayne Marshall with mentorship from Bugle and Ding Dong, will be implemented as follows:
- Project is titled #DancehallEd.
- Grade nine students and teachers from all schools across Jamaica can participate in the project.
- Students and teachers are to submit videos creatively conveying aspects of mathematics and science through songs.
- They will compete in clashes.
- The best 20 will get a spot in the project.
- Submissions are to be made by February 28.
- Individual and collective school prizes will be awarded, including upgrade of science labs.
- Students will receive mentorship from entertainers to reaffirm the notion that they can combine knowledge with contemporary style.
Dr Chris Emdin, had been instrumental in it conception, with the idea that using popular culture would engage students more and thereby increase learning. Grade 9 students will be the focus of JNSGJ, as they begin to choose their CSEC Subject at this grade.
So says Learning, development, and culture officer at JN, Renee Rattray, who represent the JN in the project, quote: “We’ve had difficulty getting students to the level that we want with maths and science over the years, and those subjects are critical components to the JNSGJ technology, so we have to find new ways. We’re happy that JN, as a private partner, has decided to try this new delivery, and the ministry endorses it”.
But why use Reggae and Dancehall and not classical or instrumental music?
Ministry of Education and JNSGJ – Reggae and Dancehall as tools of Engagement
The idea is that Dancehall and Reggae music, which hare already a part for Jamaican popular culture, already has their attention.
Thus, by delivering Mathematics and Science concepts via Dancehall and Reggae music, the student will find it easier to learn and remember these concepts. This is somewhat similar to when I used to use songs to remember Chemistry and Physics concepts when I was a Glenmuir High School student……so I like this idea very much, to be honest.
Best of all, it has the student involved in competing to create songs and videos conveying aspects of mathematics and science. The competition saw schools winning prizes both at the school and individual level, including upgraded science Laboratories.
Science and Mathematics is in everything. But Student are more likely to relate to it if they can hear it in the music from their most popular, revered and respected Dancehall and Reggae artists as pointed out by Renee Rattray, quote: “Almost as soon as you put out a dancehall song and it’s catchy and creative, the young people grasp it. Imagine if they can do that with scientific theory them greatly with retention, which would translate to application. Science is at the base of everything and not enough is being done in that area. Not enough students are choosing science for CSEC. The mentors will be there to inspire and challenge them, to show them that it’s cool to be smart, it’s cool to be a geek”.
So long as the JNSGJ can provide the computers and cameras and other props needed to make the Music videos. Also, they’d have to somehow convince reggae and dancehall artists that it’s cool to make an album of songs based on science, then this might actually work.
But has it already worked elsewhere?
JNSGJ, Dr Chris Emdin and GZA – Rap Battles to teach children Mathematics and Science
The JNSGJ is coming from a good background.
Science Genius began four years ago (Small, 2017, February 21) and is the creation of Dr Chris Emdin, author of Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation and Gary Grice. Dr Chris Emdin is the author of Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation and The Wall Street Journal. He’s been interviewed by Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post and has been featured on major international news networks like CNN, PBS and ABC.
In case you didn’t know, Gary Grice aka GZA, is the founding member of the legendary rap group, WuTang Clan. The two men partnered in 2012, with GZA interested in bringing science into Hip-hop and Emdin bringing hip-hop into the classroom.
The professor and GZA partnership resulted in the rap lyric archive RapGenius.com. The creation of Science Genius BATTLES then followed, which engages the students through the creation of rap lyrics based around science.
In an interview in The New York Times, Professor Emdin was quoted as saying: “A hip-hop cipher is the perfect pedagogical moment, where someone’s at the helm of a conversation and then one person stops and another picks up. There’s equal turns at talking. When somebody has a great line, the whole audience makes a ‘whoo’, which is positive reinforcement. All of those things that are happening in the hip-hop cipher are what should happen in an ideal classroom”.
So will the JNSGJ do for Science in Jamaica what it did for African Americans children facing prejudice and discrimination in the US of A? It’s already got a good start, but as a teacher I’d have to see how this could be integrated into a Lesson plan along with Projectors and smart screens (Deer, 2016, February 3) and have a good selection of songs produced by Students and the more popular entertainers before I, or any school for that matter, start using this in the classroom!!
- Deer, L. (2016, February 3). How Teachers’ Colleges getting TIS Project Tablets heralds Projectors and Interactive Whiteboards for Engaging Teaching. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2016/02/Teachers-Colleges–TIS-Project-Tablets.html
- Baines, S. (2017, February 23). Dancehall Music To Help Teach Moths And Sciences. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170223/dancehall-music-help-teach-maths-and-sciences
- Bryan, C. (2017, February 14). 17,500 Tablets to be Provided for Schools. Retrieved from http://jis.gov.jm/17500-tablets-provided-schools/
- Small, K. (2017, February 21). Science To A Riddim – JN Foundation To Adopt US-Based Rap Project. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20170221/science-riddim-jn-foundation-adopt-us-based-rap-project
- Linton, L. (2017, February 24). JN Project to Use Dancehall in Teaching Moths and Science. Retrieved from http://jis.gov.jm/jn-project-use-dancehall-teaching-maths-science/