Review: The Rappin' Mathematician
A music CD for kids:
A cool, hip, fun, and funny twist on math they need to know
I was talking with the mom of the 7-year-old boy across the street a few weeks ago, and she was worried by her son's new fascination with rap music; she was concerned about the ugliness of some of the lyrics, even the more seemingly benign ones. Well, this week, I received a copy of a fantastic CD called The Rappin' Mathematician. Even though I have never liked rap, this album inspired me. I think it is perfect for kids aged 6-13 who like the beat of rap music and could use a little positive reinforcement about how to master mathematics.
The Rappin' Mathematician was created by a middle-school math teacher in southern California named Alex Kajitani, who was named the 2009 Teacher of the Year in California. Kajitani is dedicated to closing the achievement gap, and presents his workshop, “Making Math Cool,” at national conferences.
The album features lyrics that focus on -- you guessed it -- math, and also has several songs that are dedicated to teaching kids how living means thinking for yourself and working hard rather than following the pack. It's wonderful, and positive, and funny, and completely catchy for adults, too! I could even see myself doing aerobics to this CD. Not only does it not contain ugly language, but one of the songs ("Just Because") even proclaims: "And just because you heard it on the radio, it's NOT OK to say!"
But, more important, do kids like it? Mateo, my young friend across the street, thought it was so great that he even asked for the lyrics I printed out, and followed the words right along with the music. You can read a lot more about the CD and even hear an NPR interview and sound clips from his songs on his web site at MathRaps.com. I'll leave you with this sample from the lyrics which has been spinning around in my mind for days:
The Rappin' Mathematician es muy elegante,
So lemme break it down, like Jaime Escalante!
Yo, you came here to rap,
Well you'd better bring the action-
'cause I'll reduce you, like an improper fraction!
An improper fraction,
Yo what's that?
The denominator's skinny, and the numerator's fat!
If it's bigger on the topper,
It must be improper!
The CD is $19.99. You can download it immediately in MP3 format, and I think it's totally worth it. I hope that Mr. Kajitani gets rich.
Before you buy the CD, do the ultimate trial: Expose your kids to some of Mr. Kajitani's music on YouTube.
©2006, Debra Ross, with updates ©2010
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