“Persuasion is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do, and to like it.” -President Eisenhower

I have heard from many secondary school educators that their students experience a declining interest in reading.  Why do they “lose both the skill and the will to read when it is clear that both traits are necessary to function as a strategic reader in a complex society?” (Paris, Lipson and Wilson, 1983)

Some students seem naturally enthusiastic about learning, but many need-or expect-their instructors to inspire, challenge, and stimulate them.  Unfortunately, there is no single magical formula for motivating students. Many factors affect a given student’s motivation to work and to learn (Bligh, 1971; Sass, 1989): interest in the subject matter, perception of its usefulness, general desire to achieve, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as patience and persistence.  And, of course, not all students are motivated by the same values, needs, desires, or wants. Some students will be motivated by the approval of others, some by overcoming challenges.

I wonder why the onus is on the school to motivate students to read when clearly family and society play an equally significant role. What if community stakeholders were to form a collaborative persuasion effort and covertly market reading?

Persuasion strategies have been used successfully by advertisers to motivate consumers. Look at these old advertisements that persuaded people to smoke.

Our environment is rich in visual images and print, very little of which is aimed at encouraging reading. What if we were to use advertising to persuade people to read?

Children’s author Vi Hughes asks, “why don’t we make reading experiences available to children in their neighbourhoods and in the larger community by placing brightly illustrated stories and poems in public places?”  (Follow the discussion in the Literacy Forum)

Imagine replacing TV commercials and perfume and beer ads with teens reading.

It was this YouTube video that got me thinking.  Although I find his body language and some of his words offensive, do you think Julian Smith will entice the “Now Generation” to pick up a book?


2 thoughts on “Can a Rapper Make Reading More Attractive?

  1. What he does here is quite funny.

    It is a parody of a typical rap song, so although some of his lyrics are over the top, it is done purposefully and arouses attention.

    This is one bad $%&* reader.

  2. I was listening to an interview with Jay Z the other day, and he kept stressing that he was not a singer, he was a poet. He made a convincing argument that rap is far more like poetry than it is like song. Jay Z has a new book out, “Decoded”, and in it, he compares the style restrictions a sonnet to that of a rap “song” (http://spontaneousoverflow.com/wordpress/?p=2713).

    If Jay Z’s argument resonates, then technically, we have an entire generation coming up that is poetry-literate (it just takes us Gen Xers and Zoomers a little while longer to catch on!).

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