Seven Best Practices for Using Hip Hop in the Classroom: A White Paper

hip hop

Hip hop is a musical genre that I’m not totally comfortable with. It’s definitely outside of my comfort zone. However, it’s a huge part of the lives of many of my students, present and past (and ironically, “school” is outside of their comfort zones–making us polar opposites). I recently started to realize that the only way for me to remedy this is not to simply wait for students to get comfortable with school–no! I need to reach outside of my comfort zone to learn more about them–to learn more about hip hop–and even find ways to integrate it into my classroom.

I embarked on this journey with a colleague from graduate school, and together we wrote a white paper detailing not just the history and power of hip hop culture (because it has transcended the term “musical genre” and become its own culture at this point), but how to effectively explore hip hop in the classroom. In fact, we provide you with seven ready-made lesson ideas to get you started.

But if you’re like us, you’ll find that there’s a lot to explore. You’ll find that hip hop culture goes deeper (intellectually and emotionally) than you ever realized. It’s not just about baggy jeans and spray painting walls–it’s about finding a voice in the midst of oppression and searching for truth in the midst of lies. It’s about creating powerful prose worthy of being studied as literature right alongside Robert Frost and Walt Whitman. It’s about the music, the lyrics, the look, and the attitude–all coming together like poetry in motion. It’s been exciting to dive headfirst into the world of hip hop, and I can’t wait to introduce it to my students in the classroom–won’t they be surprised (in a good way)!

Warning: this document is a LARGE file that may take some time to download, as it contains graphics and embedded videos as well as text. White Paper FINAL