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Hip-Hop Education Summit Brings Hip-Hop Into The Classroom

Posted Mar 13 2006

November 2005 issue of The Ave. Magazine.-There has always been a school of thought amongst hip-hoppers that this art form could be used to not only entertain but to educate. With such a vast audience and universal appeal, older school artists like KRS ONE, Public Enemy and Queen Latifah used their music as "edutainment," spreading social and political messages to eager listeners. More recently, hip-hop artists have brought things a step further, like Kanye teaching a songwriting class at Chicago State University or Common writing a children's book.

There has always been a school of thought amongst hip-hoppers that this art form could be used to not only entertain but to educate. With such a vast audience and universal appeal, older school artists like KRS ONE, Public Enemy and Queen Latifah used their music as “Edutainment,” spreading social and political messages to eager listeners. More recently, hip-hop artists have brought things a step further, like Kanye teaching a songwriting class at Chicago State University or Common writing a children’s book.

Yet it is not with famous hip-hop artists but rather teachers, organizers and others across the country that hip-hop is truly being used as a vehicle to educate young people. Now in its third consecutive year, the annual H2Ed Hip-Hop and Education Summit brings educators of various sorts from all over the country together to share curriculum ideas and methods for incorporating hip-hop into education practices. Organized by the Hip-Hop Association, this year’s summit took place on November 4th and 5th at the Bronx Museum of Art.

H2Ed offers a series of workshops and panel discussions in which educators describe and demonstrate various techniques of employing hip-hop elements in classroom learning. For example, Flocabulary, the brainchild of Alex Rappaport and Blake Harrison uses hip-hop rhymes to teach vocabulary. As Rappaport points out, “It’s easy to memorize rap lyrics, so we are using this to help kids learn what certain words mean.”

He uses a line by Talib Kweli to demonstrate his point: “Stopping us is as preposterous as an androgynous misogynist.” He continues by asking the audience to translate that sentence and then shows how that method can be employed in a classroom to teach students. Other workshops examined how hip-hop can be used as a tool to teach math and science, violence prevention techniques, history and social justice.

The Summit also included panel discussions and presentation including author Bakari Kitwana, Dr. Roxanne Shante, spoken word artist Toni Blackman and others.

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