Monday, October 28, 2002

How come we don't teach this stuff to kids?

A recent Kottke post has got me thinking about Eminem. My first reaction to all the negative attention he has received over the years is that he must be picking at some scab we want left alone - and that can't be all bad ;)

Not my preferred style of music, I opt to go straight to the lyrics and read. And with the exception of some disquieting subject-matter, they are simply stunning. Oh yeah, I'm one of those folks who thinks this guy has brilliant writing and rhyming skills.

But what I really want to know is who decides that literary "classics" are a better way to teach kids about language, society and history? I'm all for exposing people to our intellectual and creative history, but not at the expense of diversity, contemporary cultural awareness and appreciation.

Teaching first year students makes me think a lot about what we're teaching in high school. Most of these kids arrive in my class unprepared to think and write critically, or to actively engage the world around them. My prep work always involves finding current examples to illustrate the points at hand, and give them something to hold on to. University is sufficiently disorienting to most of them that the least I feel I should do is make it relevant to navigating their current space. And Eminem has helped me - and them - many times.

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