By Matt Weber
They are both history teachers, but not in the way you might think. Rather than chalkboard and textbook, their tools of trade are hip hop and song...and these two twenty-somethings are beginning to make social studies more sociable. Known to the world as Scott Free and Shoeless Jeff, their group Smart Songs has close to 300,000 views on Youtube and is launching their second educational hip hop album this month called “Trip to Wall Street.” Tackling subjects from the Great Depression to the Bill of Rights, these two Providence-based rappers are changing the way history is taught, both inside and outside the classroom. Equally comprehensive as they are catchy, their songs try to educate students on what they call the “timeless” moments in U.S. history while connecting each subject to current events. In an age where memorization may seem out of fashion with the Internet at our fingertips, Smart Songs goes beyond rote learning and delves deep into a pedagogically educative experience through quirky music videos and compelling content. The Harvard EdCast took a few minutes this month to get to know the artists behind Smart Songs during their visit to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. With an exclusive sneak preview of their new album and an in-studio live performance, this first podcast in our 2012 season examines hip hop as a creative learning tool of traditional subject matter... truly, a smart song.