Rap music lessons for school pupils

THE three “Rs” may be the foundation of a child's education but pupils at an Essex school are now learning a fourth - rap.In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, the new “R” is being used at Hatfield Peverel Infants School, near Chelmsford, to help children learn to read and write.

THE three “Rs” may be the foundation of a child's education but pupils at an Essex school are now learning a fourth - rap.

In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, the new “R” is being used at Hatfield Peverel Infants School, near Chelmsford, to help children learn to read and write.

The decision by the school to embrace rap music as a vehicle for learning comes on the back of two years worth of research at the school, and the teachers' findings will be presented at an international education conference held in Florida next year.

The move has been welcomed by other groups - including crime-fighting organisations and the Church - which have also used rap and rhyme to get important messages across to children.


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Teachers at the school found that nursery rhymes and songs - once a staple part of childhood learning - are far less common today than they were in years gone by, and some children know few if any nursery rhymes.

Instead, children today get their sense of rhythm and rhyme from other sources such as television, video games and rap music.

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But unlike nursery rhymes, these new sources of rhyme and rhythm are rarely brought into the classroom meaning their potential for boosting a child's ability to learn in class is often lost.

Headteacher Marrie Webster will be going to a major education conference in Florida in January next year to present the school's findings.

She said: “It has been interesting to see how those traditional nursery rhymes which have been passed down for hundreds of years do seem to have become less common in the last two or three decades.

“Children today are so much quicker at dealing with information in a visual way and we were particularly interested in the role that rhyme and rhythm plays in learning across a number of different areas.”

She said the patterns of rhyme and rhythm were important in educational development and the school was keen to find modern equivalents of nursery rhymes - such as rap music - to bolster lessons at the school.

Sarah Openshaw, group leader of Kelvedon's Youth Alpha Christian Group, said rap was often seen as promoting violence. But, she said, it did not have to be that way and the 30 children in her group had used rap music to convey the Christian message.

She said accusations of violent content could equally be levelled at some nursery rhymes.

Mrs Openshaw said: “We belong to a very traditional church and so using rap music is not something most people would expect. But it works and we plan to do more Christian raps.”

Garry Calver, who set up Rhyme Against Crime, which was named on the back of a headline in the EADT, said rhyme had proved an excellent vehicle for getting important messages across.

He said: “It seems this school is doing something in lessons similar to our approach to inform children about issues surrounding crime.”

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