The man who put rap on the map Earl Jones' irresistible way of teaching geography

January 07, 1991|By Sujata Banerjee | Sujata Banerjee,Evening Sun Staff

EARL JONES WANTS LL Cool J to know he's sorry.

"I issue an apology/to those who rap professionally," says Jones.

L"They may well be purists rare -- rappers, all extraordinaire.

"I do not wish to cause them pain/as I transgress on their domain."

Rapping is irresistible for Jones, whose rhyming words flow as easily as the rivers in "Map Rap," a geography workbook he has written for children.

"Rap will bring geography to life," Jones says. "The exercises are so built in they sneak up on the child and the child learns by having fun. When you mix everything with play, people will like it and they will learn."

The 61-year-old retired assistant principal from the Baltimore city schools began writing his book in 1988, after learning the dismal results of a National Geographic magazine survey on geography knowledge.

"National Geographic went all over our country and found children and adults don't know anything about the map. Some people couldn't even locate their own city or state," says Jones. When Maryland was cited as one of the states with poor geographic knowledge, Jones felt "it was like somebody talking about your mother."

Jones' book sets out to teach students all 50 United States and the independent countries of the world. The rhyming verses give clues about where states lie in comparison to each other, making it possible for kids to fill in a blank map.

Jones is no stranger to creative teaching techniques. In 31 yearof teaching and school administration, he used drama and arts and crafts to lead students through lessons.

"I was always sent to the largest schools, where it was tough," remembers Jones, who retired four years ago. "I sometimes had to downplay the creative because they wanted a disciplinarian."

While rap has been regarded as young people's art, it's something Jones believes he has a right to. "Rap is not new. I always liked poetry," says Jones, who began learning poems as a young child while he was laid up in the hospital after an accident.

He continues to share his love of verse with his grandchildren, set of 2-year-old triplets. "I rap to them every time they come in here," says Jones.

"Map Rap" is illustrated with graphic designs by Oran Woolcocand features photos of Howard G., a local comedian. Published by C.H. Fairfax Publishing Co., the 52-page, $12.50 paperback is already in its second printing. An advertisement for "Map Rap" placed in the New York Times Book Review has brought in requests from California to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For more information about "Map Rap," contact C.H. Fairfax Co., P.O. Box 502, Columbia, Maryland 21045 or call 730-2397.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.