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What Teachers Can Learn from Hip-Hop Culture What Teachers Can Learn from Hip-Hop Culture

What Teachers Can Learn from Hip-Hop Culture

by Liz Dwyer
May 19, 2011

I love hip hop, and when I was a classroom teacher, pretty much all of my students loved hip hop, too. So it's not far fetched to suggest that teachers working with low-income black and brown kids could learn a thing or two from the genre.

At least, that's the thinking of teacher, hip-hop artist, and author Sam Seidel, who believes that "the brilliance that created hip hop music and culture offers crucial lessons for our education system." His upcoming book Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education suggests that instead of educators looking at their students through a deficit model—and listing out all the things wrong with them and the music they love—we need to incorporate hip hop's "culture, creativity, and entrepreneurship" into classrooms. After all, there's a reason why Jay-Z made it, and it's not just because he's a great lyricist.

What I especially appreciate about Seidel is that he believes teachers need to move past merely bringing in hip-hop lyrics to relate to students and should instead use the principles behind the music to catalyze student learning and entrepreneurship. Seidel breaks down his theories and provides examples of how this can work in the excellently animated video above. After watching it, I can't help but wonder, what it would really take to get more teachers to see hip hop—and student culture—as an asset instead of something negative that has to be left outside the classroom?

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