Rap Battle in the Classroom: Millsaps Econ Students Bust Some Rhymes

Joey Lee

July 3, 2024

"Millsaps strives to develop the whole person, nurturing both creative and analytical thinking. Dr. Fender’s assignment epitomized that mission."

Millsaps is known as a place where students can explore both their analytical side as well as their creative side. Dr. Blakely Fender consolidated this mission in one assignment in her intermediate microeconomics class!

“I challenged my students with an assignment that allowed them to explore economic concepts creatively,” Fender explained. “The Federal Trade Commission had just announced a ban on non-compete clauses in employee contracts. To delve into this topic, I gave my students a choice: write a traditional paper or create a rap about the FTC’s decision.”

She gave detailed instructions for those who chose bust a rhyme. Students could choose rap alone or with a team. The song needed to be at least three minutes, highlighting the pros and cons of the FTC’s ban and clearly communicating their stance on the issue. It had to be backed by economic evidence sourced from reliable references. Several groups chose to take on the rap challenge, producing a variety of creative videos showcasing their understanding of the issue.

Fender was thrilled with the outcome of the assignment, expressing, “The students were genuinely invested in their work. As the semester drew to a close and fatigue began to set in, this project injected a new energy into the classroom. It refocused their attention on a significant economic issue in a much more dynamic way than a traditional paper could have.”

Of the four group submissions, the rap video created by Ben Anderson and TJ Rathore, stood out from the rest. Fender said their lyrics were insightful and cleverly constructed, effectively presenting both sides of the argument regarding the ban.

“The duo managed to convey complex economic concepts in a manner that was both informative and entertaining,” said Fender. “And to top it off, their performance skills were impressive, adding an extra layer of polish to their submission.”

The other groups also delivered strong work and showed their mad-rapping skills, with their scripts demonstrating a thorough understanding of the topic. The raps presented were well-researched and thoughtfully composed, addressing the nuances of the FTC’s decision with clarity and depth. “Plus,” continued Blakely, “these videos featured some amusing and creative visual elements that added to their appeal.

You can watch these creative and informative videos here: Nat and Laurie; Brody, Quendarrius, Alex and Peyton; Ben and TJ; and Amrit, Umema & Anu.

“I consider this project a resounding success. It captured the students’ attention and helped them understand the real-world implications of the FTC’s actions. Watching my students debate the merits and drawbacks of non-compete clauses through their raps also reinvigorated me! It was a rewarding experience and reinforced the value of incorporating creative assignments into the curriculum.”

Millsaps strives to develop the whole person, nurturing both creative and analytical thinking. Dr. Fender’s assignment epitomized that mission. Through this unique project, she encapsulated the school’s goal of fostering comprehensive student development. This is surely one assignment these students will remember for years to come.