Kurt Minnaar, a 33-year-old math teacher at Cape Town’s Eben Dönges High School uses hip hop beats and rhymes to make math lessons more enjoyable for his students.
Singing or listening to music during math class is usually frowned upon, but in Kurt Minnaar’s classroom, it’s actually a pre-requisite. The former choreographer and hip-hop artist is using his musical background to make the process of learning math a lot easier and less boring for his students. Minaar says that most kids today are into music and beats, and he’s basically taking the traditional math curriculum and fusing it with what they love to make it easier to learn and remember.
The 33-year-old South-African says that he, like some of his students, struggled in school primarily because of how sterile and boring he found most of his classes. He was a hyperactive child and had problem focusing on subjects like math, but as he grew older he realized that it wasn’t all his fault and that the traditional public education system just doesn’t work for everybody. So he decided to come up with anew approach, one that would get kids more interested in school, and what better than rap music?
“The traditional way of teaching only serves the read-write learner, or the independent learner,” Kurt Minnaar told Daily Voice. “There are Grade 8 learners in my class that don’t even know Grade 4 work. Through my raps I have created a teaching method that caters for the creative, hyper or dyslexic learner.”
With the help of some friends, Minaar created 60-second math tracks with names like “Cre-eight”, “Trick-onometry” and “Van Guard” where he raps off multiplication tables to hip hop beats. He then has his students rap along to the music pumping out of his laptop. He also encourages dancing during class, as it helps the children get into the mood and learn the multiplications easier.
So far, Kurt has only created musical material for multiplication tables, but the results have been so positive that he is now working on new learning materials and lesson plans. “I have seen some good results in my classes, but to see an even greater result I need to create more learning material and lesson plans. I have so many other ideas that I still want to implement, but it’s all going to take some time,” he says.
Ever since Minaar brought hip-hop music into the classroom, he has had less disruptions during class, attendance is constantly at 100% and the students grades have gone up considerably. Plus, the kids genuinely love learning math now.
Kurt Minnaar wants to challenge the traditional way of teaching, but he’s not saying that it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work for everybody, because not all students learn the same way. His initiative merely aims to show that we need to keep an open mind when it comes to children’s education.