There's a gap between the perceived "euro-centric" history of science and the urban students of 2012 who can't relate. This disconnect seems to be contributing to the decreasing interest in STEM careers. How, then, can urban schools shed light on the relevance of science today? The solution seems to be... hip-hop, the culture
. Through the hip-hop lens, students have been freed to use their own natural expressions in the classroom (be it rap or mere perspective), instead of investing in unfulfilling efforts to abide by scientific tradition.
Not only is the scientific content delivered within a hip-hop context (i.e. What metals make up the alloy of the necklace worn by so-and-so rapper?), but even the classroom is contextualized. For example, small group discussions are likened to that of a "cypher", which is a circle of rappers who freestyle and exchange their lyrical and rhythmical ideas. Students who thrive within the hip-hop culture can now relate, and finally accept a role in the scientific community.
The merging of art & lifestyle cultures with academic agendas is certainly a rising trend in education. A homegrown example of this trend lives on as the Young Arts
project. Young Arts was birthed through the collaboration between the popular storytelling culture of television and film (HBO) and the oldest graduate school of education in America (Teachers College). Hip-hop culture and academia have also intersected, specifically through collaborations between "geniuses"
such as GZA (of group, Wu-Tang Clan) and Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium.
How does everyone else feel about allowing science exploration to branch into many diverse pockets, in opposition to a single "scientific culture"?
"Any group that doesn't see themselves as part of the history of science becomes removed from it,"
says Professor Chris Emdin in the following mini-documentary: