Erick Innis of McMinn County High School in Athens, Tennessee; Photo: YouTube/Erik Innis
Now more than ever, for better or for worse, teachers are using hip-hop to reach their students. It’s a smart way for educators to relate to the youth and engage them on a level that is both relevant and entertaining.
The most recent case involves Erick Innis, a McMinn County High School biology teacher in Athens, Tennessee. Innis, a former med student turned educator, was looking for a way to reach his students when he got the bright idea to parody “My Shot” from Hamilton, the hit Broadway musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“I know that some work well with visual material, some work well with the auditory material, and then some people, I think we all know that music sticks with us,” he told WKYC Cleveland. “I’m seeing energy from students I don’t ordinarily see energy from.”
With the help of his students, Innis spent a year writing, editing and shooting a six-minute video, covering the fundamentals of biology. Innis raps: [LISTEN]
Now biology, levels keep it orderly
‘Becpoootcomma’ keeps them deeply in my memory
If a population is racing towards infinity
there’s a limit within it called ‘carrying capacity’
The video has already garnered over 10,000 views, and the staff and student body have praised the effort, lauding Innis for his passion and willingness to think outside the box. “He gets kids excited about learning and he really connects with them so they can relate to things in everyday life with what he’s doing in biology,” McMinn County High School Principal David McDonald told reporters.
Whether they’re referencing a particular artist or coming up with their own raps, teachers (the good ones at least) will always find a way to reach their students. It’s arguably the most thankless job in the U.S., and if it were a just world the best teachers would be celebrated (and compensated) like the best entertainers.