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Teacher who wowed Homerton students with science freestyle rap: ‘I do this every lesson’

PUBLISHED: 16:25 18 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:12 24 March 2016

Poet Christian Foley took the internet by storm this week with his rap

Poet Christian Foley took the internet by storm this week with his rap

Archant

A hip young teacher who delivered a blistering science freestyle to students has revealed he raps all of his lessons – but was almost outsmarted by an economics class.

Running for the buses by Christian Foley

Hackney has some of the best poets you will ever know,

most of them are in my class of Year 8’s, and catch the same bus to school.

Ade is Rwandan, the son of a writer and the inheritor

of a rich fortune of language, he wants to be a physicist

nearly as much as he wants to catch supernovas in inkpots

and spill them over countries with his words.

Children here are world makers, no – scratch that like turntablists –

they are universe creators, scene painters, dream chasers.

Kids in my class sprint for the 277, outside Dalston station –

an hour later I see them write like they run, in wildly individual styles.

Never run their life for them, we teachers are just trying to build the roads,

no – the runways, because all ambitions deserve to be granted wings.

El is Nigerian; her accent is fluent and as musical as pouring water

and her excitement overflows when she reads; her classmates catch it too –

now I am starting to understand what poetry is, impossible to hold

it is something that I can’t contain in poems.

You notice these kids running for the buses – they never miss them, see

teachers hope they catch their dreams as well, and with them travel free.

Christian Foley, 24, has become an internet sensation after a video of him rapping to Year 8 children at Cardinal Pole school in Homerton went viral.

But speaking to the Gazette, he said the feat was “nothing remarkable” and the video only surfaced because another teacher wanted to see him rap.

“That is literally my day job,” he said. “My role is to work with the children and rather than studying poetry, give them the voice.

“What I do is go in and ask what they are studying and say ‘give me 15 or 20 words you have been learning’. I tell them if I can’t incorporate them into a freestyle they can do what they like for the rest of the lesson.

“That gets them going because they really want to have a go then. But I always do it. The only time [it nearly went wrong] was in Peckham when I went into an economics class. It’s not my strong point so trying to rhyme ‘quantitative easing’ and other fiscal terms was a struggle – but I still managed to do it.

“It’s part of spoken word education, in which poets are funded to go into schools and help children express themselves through poetry. I’m one of the youngest and I’m the hip hop arm of it. It works in an amazing way.

“I’m usually based in the English department but it was science week so I got asked to go into that class.

“Students aren’t allowed phones but another teacher wanted to see it so I asked a student to film it on my phone.”

Christian is based at the school in Morning Lane for three days a week, and at The Complete Works charity school in Shoreditch the other two.

“People online don’t believe it’s spontaneous but it is,” he continued. “I’ve been a poet since I was 14.

“I was inspired by another Hackney resident, Raymond Antrobus and when I was younger it was Akala and Scroobius Pip, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with both.

“My main mission isn’t to go viral, I want to be around longer than a viral video. It has come at a good time for me though because I’ve just released an album that I spent a year doing.”

Christian had kind words for the students at the school, saying out of all the children he had worked with, they were the most creative.

“They are unafraid to try things, and they have big dreams,” he said.

Fans of Christian’s rap can buy his new poetry and hip hop album Jumpers for Goalposts, out now on Kompyla Records.

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