Math raps: the next edu-fad?

Who says music is disappearing from public schools? Well maybe it is, but at least Alex Kajitani’s middle school kids in Escondido, Calif. are learning to bust a rhyme in math class.

Kajitani, who developed “The Rappin’-Mathematician” curriculum, is in the running for National Teacher of the Year.

Here’s the inner-city-school-turnaround story behind it, as told on his Web site:

Alex Kajitani was a struggling new teacher at a tough, inner-city school in San Diego. As the students came in each day unable to remember simple math concepts from the day before, yet singing every word to the new rap song on the radio, he realized he needed a new approach. Fed up with the students coming in rapping lyrics about violence, drug use, and mistreating women, he began to perform rap songs about the math he was teaching. He used authentic rap beats similar to what was on the radio, and interjected messages about making good decisions and living a positive life.

The songs quickly became legendary throughout the school, and the district. Test scores soared, and Kajitani’s “at-risk” students began outperforming their more affluent counterparts on districtwide tests…

I wonder if his students’ tastes in music have changed. Not that they’re listening to math rap outside of school, but still.

If you’ll recall, I wrote about rap therapy last summer. Are any Oakland teachers incorporating music of any kind into math, reading or history? (I told Kajitani I was going to blog about his program, so who knows? He might join the discussion.)

above image, republished with permission, from The Rappin’ Mathematician Web site

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Maria Ku

    My daughter 7th-grader’s science teacher in Montera uses rhymes, songs and dances designed to help his students learn science material.

  • http://edu.report Michaele Galloway

    I would like to purchase the “math rap” cds but I can’t find them or a site for the teacher that wrote them. Can you help?

  • Katy Murphy

    Sure. You can find the Web site through the hyperlink (in blue text — the words “Web site”) in the post. Here it is again, though: