Rappers Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj have quite a few music awards under their belts, but their most recent honor may leave a few people scratching their heads.
Better Education Place, a South Florida-based education company, recently named the pair “teachers of the year” in its first teacher awards ceremony.
Melvin El, CEO of the company, said the hip-hop artists were judged among several other “teachers” based on several different categories including the ability to capture and maintain attention, the ability to move their audience or create interaction and their ability to inspire.
El explained that the methodologies the two artists use are undeniable forces of learning and students are drawn in by rappers’ “swagger.”
“If you are a teacher today and you don’t have any swagger, you are going to struggle to get your students’ attention,” El said in a statement. “It turns out a teacher can learn a lot from Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj.”
According to their website, Better Education Place uses a similar teaching method. Among the commitments in their company’s mantra is to “introduce new learning experiences that demonstrates how music can bridge the gap in literacy.”
As a result, the company has become famous for using hip-hop techniques to teach children to read in days.
“If it works, we have to use it,” El said in a statement. “We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water…especially when we are talking about our babies. With the help of hip hop, we can make education fun again.”
Some have criticized the company for it’s “teacher of the year” honorees.
“Giving the credit to these particular rappers is like rewarding broccoli for being nutritious,” Reed Fischer, wrote in Florida’s Broward-Palm Beach New Times newspaper. “As much as personally enjoy the artistry and wordplay of Nicki Minaj, there is nothing about ‘Super Bass’ that is intended as education—for grade school kids, anyhow. Lil Wayne picturing himself in a cap and gown on the cover of ‘Tha Carter IV’ is pleasant enough, but this is obviously an award that neither of them asked for nor deserve.”
El stood by the company’s teaching methods and believes that literacy and hip-hop are closely related.
“It’s ironic as well that most of the problems we have in our community can be traced back to reading and early learning,” he said in a statement. “To be good at hip-hop, it seems you have to master some of the very same skills. And two people who exemplify these qualities well are Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj.”