An English class in a New Jersey high school can claim to have the highest attendance rate in the world (probably!) thanks to a new teaching method being used by English head, Brian Mooney (thats Mr. Mooney to you.) While To Pimp a Butterfly was released to critical acclaim earlier this year, Mooney was comparing its messages to school text The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, about a quiet young black girl that develops an inferiority complex thanks to her community’s white values being forced upon her.
Mooney maintained a blog during the classes, which managed to make its way to Kendrick Lamar. This culminated in Kendrick making a surprise visit to the school on June 8 to perform Alright from the album.
Here’s some footage from the day:
Can we just say, what an awesome concept it is to bring popular contemporary music into the classroom to highlight the importance of a text that, to a teenager, can seem one irrelevant world away. Kendrick seemed taken aback by the response of the high school in an interview with NBC news:
“I didn’t think I made it for a 16-year-old. So when a 16-year-old is intrigued by it, it lets me know how so far in advance as a society we actually are. And that inspired me on a whole ‘nother level. A lot of times we’re put in these positions where we don’t know we’re role models. And just off the simple fact — whether we want to be a role model or not –- just the simple fact that we come from these Urban communities, these harsh worlds and we’re on TV and kids are looking at us, we’re already influence. We influence their minds, we influence the way they talk, the way they dress. Every time I meet kids and they explain it to me what they got going on in life. I got to get out of my selfish ways of knowing that the music is not just about me anymore.”
Mooney also appeared, discussing the viability of hip hop as a learning tool:
“One of the most important elements of hip hop is something called ‘knowledge of self,’ which a lot of hip hop historians will talk about. And that’s so educational. That’s talking about identity. And so, it’s less of matter of using hip hop to trick kids into learning, but it’s more of an actual frame work for teaching and learning.”
Congratulations to Brian Mooney, he’s got our vote for teacher of the year. He takes Matthew Perry and raises it to another, more important level: