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Hip-Hop Pedagogy and Urban Mythology

January 21, 2003

Re "Reading, 'Riting and Rap," Jan. 14: I am deeply disturbed that tax money is being spent on such a celebration of ignorance. When will the LAUSD get a clue? These students need guidance, not a teacher who needs to feel "hip." The wasteland called public education grows even more barren. This is the biggest pro-voucher advertisement yet.

How insulting to the students. The unspoken message is that the kids can't relate to anything that is beyond the 'hood. These are the students who need the most help. This is educational malpractice ... as The Times cheers on. All this talk about "dead white guys." The last time I looked, Tupac Shakur was pretty stiff.

Richard Arnold

Azusa

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Some may be concerned by English teacher Patrick Camangian's innovative technique of using modern rap and hip-hop lyrics to get his Crenshaw High students to better relate to classical literature, comparing the works of Shakur to William Blake or Emily Dickenson. What concerns me is that an English teacher would so freely reference the infamous Willie Lynch letter without discussing whether that document is a fraud.

As an English teacher, Camangian might be in an excellent position to lead a discussion with his students over the linguistic discrepancies in the alleged letter, which has been widely circulated on the Internet. Though it is claimed to have been written in 1712, it is without reference prior to 1993 and is rife with historical inaccuracies, not the least of which being that it uses terminology and language that did not come into vogue until the latter half of the 20th century. Despite these glaring errors, it is increasingly reported as factual and has even given rise to a new term, "Willie Lynch syndrome." Perhaps Camangian can cover that in a subsequent class?

Craig Spector

Pasadena

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