Hip Hop Music in the Classroom
To investigate the roll of hip hop music and culture in the classroom I read three articles and reviewed three websites. Hip Hop is a â€śgenre of music typically consisting of a rhythmic style of speaking called rap over backing beats performed on a turntable or DJâ€? (http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_Hop_music). While this style of music is extremely popular with students, it is not necessarily considered to be the high quality â€śstandard based curriculumâ€? that teachers are supposed to be using. The website http://www.flocabulary.com/teachers/html brings hip hop to the standards. The creators of the website have designed a program to bring the necessary (standard based) curriculum to life through hip hop music. The website http://www.tolerance.org/teach/activities/activity.jsp?ar=815 also brings curriculum to life through videos and other teaching materials. These materials make the point that the issue of tolerance is not just an issue of today, people have had differences throughout history and we should learn through history so we do not repeat it. The article â€śDigital DJ-ing: Rhythms of Learning in an Urban Schoolâ€? by Jabari Mahiri is an example of how Hip Hop music can be used in the classroom. Above all this article suggests that using Hip Hop in the classroom helps make students feel like they are an important part of the classroom. The article â€śAfrican American Literaciesâ€? by Elaine Richardson suggests that Hip Hop is more than music, it tells the history and the culture of African Americans. Hip Hop is not profanity and violence, it is language, identity and symbolism. The article â€śWhat They Do Learn in School: Hip-Hop as a Bridge to Canonical Poetryâ€? by Ernest Morrell and Jeff Duncan-Andrade links rap to classic poetry. This is yet another example of how Hip Hop music can be used in the classroom, without compromising the amount of learning that takes place.
When I first thought about this assignment, I thought â€śWOW we are going to try to stretch Hip Hop to fit the parameters of the classroom.â€? I did not believe that Hip Hop could be used to teach anything, it would be just a form of entertainment. After reading the three articles and three websites (listed above) I realize that I was wrong. I never realized the roots and the history behind Hip Hop and rap music. I also never realized that Hip Hop can be more than sexually provocative lyrics and violence. http://www.flocabulary.com/teachers/html showed me that curriculum can be put to a beat and it can be called Hip Hop. Hip-Hop US History is AWESOME! I can not believe that these materials exist and I had never heard of them. I listened to three songs on the website entitled â€śLet Freedom Ring,â€? â€śThe Declaration of Independenceâ€? and â€śGhosts of the Civil War.â€? These songs were amazing! I definitely think that my students will love the songs and I agree that in time these songs can teach! I love these songs so much that I plan on talking with my principal and hopefully I will be able to use them in the fall.
As I was reading the articles required for this assignment and reviewing the websites I thought of a few ways that I can bring Hip Hop into my classroom:
1) Put students into groups with an assigned topic and have them create a rap that covers their given topic. The students will have the opportunity to use music of their choice of music for the back beat and each group will share their rap with the class.
2) As a tool for memorization, we could develop a rap as a class. For example create a rap to remember the Gettysburg Address or the articles of the Constitution. We would create a rap together and then say the rap at the beginning or end of each class until the students know it by heart. (This is the same concept of songs that we have all sung in Kindergarten that we remember still to this day.)
3) Given a topic such as â€śheroism, generosity, selflessness,â€? etc. students can go on a â€śhuntâ€? for their favorite songs that exhibit these characteristics. The students would pick their song, write an analysis of the songs and then share the song and the analysis with the class.
While I am excited about all of the new information that I received about using Hip Hop music in the classroom, I am still left with a few questions. One concern I have is how do I use Hip Hop music in my classroom when I know that there are students who absolutely HATE Hip Hop? I have had problems in my classroom before where a student will play a rap song on the computer and other kids go nuts. It becomes a verbal argument about why that music â€śsucksâ€? and why this other genre is so much better. To keep it even, should country and rock music also be used in the classroom?