Yep, It's a Thing

HipHopEd isn't what you think it is. Although what you think it is sounds fun.

  A hiphop dancer doing a handstand

Not quite.

As described by educator extraordinaire Christopher Emdin, HipHopEd "is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses on the use of hip-hop culture and its elements." It can be used in any discipline, from STEM subjects to social studies, language arts, and foreign language. And it can take many forms, too. Oh, hey, just like hip hop.

How It Might Look

Here is where we bullet-point you some examples.

  • English or Language Arts class: you might choose a rap song to deconstruct in order to teach similes, metaphors, or imagery
  • Art: students could focus on the art forms of hip-hop culture, such as graffiti and street art, album covers, or illustrations that capture the scene. 
  • Social studies: Students could comb through the lyrics of songs by Common or Talib Kwali or other hip hop artists who grapple with social movements and rights issues. Or ones who don't—and then you'd get a real critique going.
  • Science: Students could write (and perform) original rap lyrics to help teach or demonstrate their mastery of, oh, for example, glycolysis. Don't hate, just get your pyruvate…you get the idea.

We could give you examples all day, you get the idea. (Not to mention a brilliant new mnemonic for pyruvate.) The idea behind HipHopEd is to meet students where they are and reach them there—hip-hop music and culture is an important part of many students' lives, so it's a good place to start.

Want some research to back it up? According to Emdin, HipHopEd "has been used to increase student attendance, motivation and content knowledge." He even goes so far as to say that hip hop can help to Foster the Scientific Mind.

Wow, that pyruvate stuff was no joke…

More Than a Method

One more thing: HipHopEd is more than just a teaching style—it's a community. Check out #hiphoped to read ideas about the approach from other educators, review recent album releases, or discuss political issues.

Yes, we're sending you to Twitter for pedagogical debate.

As one member states, #hiphoped is "a think tank for the analysis and evaluation of Hip Hop culture" (source). There's even a meetup on Tuesday nights at 9:00PM EST if you want to Tweet and be Tweeted at. Think hip-hop battle turned 21st century.

Not enough? You can also check in with HipHopEd enthusiasts on Facebook, and if you still want more, check out Christopher Emdin et al presenting a little HipHopEd at the Celebration of Teaching and Learning.

Now go bust some rhymes and get back to teaching.