RD: So you said, “Mom, gotta tell ya…”
Smith:I told my parents I wanted to rap. They said, “Rap?” My mother graduated from Carnegie Mellon. She thought
college was the only way. My father could kind of see doing something differently. We agreed that I would take a year making music, and if it did not work
out, I would go to college. That year we won the first Grammy given to a rap artist.
RD: How did your mom react?
Smith: She backed up a little bit. I sent her one of those 300E Mercedes, and she was cool.
RD: Have you ever thought about going back to college?
Smith: The things that have been most valuable to me I did not learn in school. Traditional
education is based on facts and figures and passing tests — not on a comprehension of the material and its application to your life. Jada and I homeschool
our children, because the date of the Boston Tea Party does not matter.
RD: But there are some basics in education that need to be taught.
Smith: Of course there are. Reading, writing and arithmetic, because those are the
languages of our country.
RD: When you say you homeschool, do you mean you actually teach them?
Smith: No, we have hired teachers who teach what we feel is important. For example,
Plato’s Republic — kids need to know that. Why is that not taught in first grade?
RD: You think kids in elementary school should read Plato’s Republic?
Smith: Yeah. You cannot be an American without reading it and Aristotle’s Politics.
That is what the forefathers of this country read, and they used them to create what I believe is the finest system of government that has ever existed.
RD: So, you don’t see any reason to go back to a formal education yourself?
Smith: I know how to learn anything I want to learn. I absolutely know that I
could learn how to fly the space shuttle because someone else knows how to fly it, and they put it in a book. Give me the book, and I do not need somebody
to stand up in front of the class.
RD: They put physics in a book, but I know I could never be a physicist.
Smith: The first step is you have to say that you can.