Spitting Rhymes for Flashy Grades: The Link Between Hip Hop Curriculum and Improved Learning

Spitting Rhymes for Flashy Grades: The Link Between Hip Hop Curriculum and Improved Learning
Can rap lyrics and hip hop beats help students learn more? Studies and some public schools say yes!

One, two, three, four - give your algebra class a hip-hop beat score!

Researchers have been studying the link between music and learning for decades, and recent research suggests that listening to music enhances the brain's ability to absorb new information. According to the Education Portal, a Stanford University School of Medicine study showed that listening to music can help the brain focus and organize information more efficiently.

This news isn't new for millions of students who enjoy listening to their favorite tunes during study sessions. However, for many schools that are now incorporating music into their curriculum, the study supports their efforts to improve students' learning ability with musical selections.

In this TEDx Talk, Edmund Adjapong discusses Transforming Urban Education Through HipHop Pedagogy.

What is Hip Hop?

Hip-hop has become the genre of choice for many schools looking to add music to their basic curriculum and test preparation. Hip Hop, according to Wise Geek, is a cultural movement that originated in the Bronx in the 1970s and quickly spread throughout the African-American and Latin-American cultures in New York City. More recently, hip hop has become a worldwide craze but has particularly spread in popularity throughout the United States.

Hip-hop incorporates four basic elements: DJing, rapping, break dancing, and graffiti art. The music consists of various components, including rapping, sampling, beatboxing, and juggling various beats on old-fashioned turntables. The musical style was also the original source for break dancing, which eventually evolved into a competitive form that involved each dancer trying to outdo the last.

Today, hip hop is becoming entrenched in several public schools, whether students are learning about the genre as a means to improve study skills, discovering a wealth of employment opportunities in the music industry or actually putting their study material to music for easier memory of important facts and figures.

Be inspired by several schools across the country that are using hip-hop to their fullest advantage to boost test scores and enhance the overall learning experience for students.

Rapping in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Academy in California is just one of the schools incorporating hip-hop into their curriculum. One of the award-winning math teachers at the school, LaMar Queen, uses rap and hip-hop music to help students understand complex algebra concepts. Queen believes that music makes it more comfortable for students to participate in class and helps them remember the challenging material, according to a report in Take Part.

In this video, a teacher explains how hip-hop taught her students to think critically.

Hip Hop in Philadelphia

A Philadelphia organization, Art Sanctuary, developed the Hip Hop 101 Curriculum Guide for teachers. This guide incorporates learning activities, academic standards, and basic background information on hip-hop music and culture. The organization believes that its curriculum will help educators and students alike better understand and appreciate the role hip-hop has played in our country's history, according to a report on The Notebook.

Finding Music Careers in Portland

The R.E.A.L. Prep Charter Academy in Portland will be opening next year to prepare high school students for a career in the entertainment industry. Troy McNair, a player in the recording industry who has worked with big names like Def Jam and Disney, is helping Portland get their school off the ground.

McNair told The Skanner, "What's great about this school, is that it's developing creative minds."

The four-year charter school will focus on academic basics for the first two years, allowing students to work on a more independent, project-based track.

Fresh Prep in New York

According to the Urban Arts website, fresh Prep is the brainchild of Urban Arts, an organization committed to advancing the intellectual, social, and artistic of under-served public school students.

Fresh Prep is a new approach to test preparation that utilizes rap music to help students memorize facts and figures necessary to pass the state's standardized testing. According to the report on Take Part, the test prep program is showing significantly higher test scores for many students across the city. However, additional training for the curriculum may be needed to increase graduation rates to a satisfactory number.

When schools struggle to pass students in high-risk areas, creativity and innovation on the educational front are certainly in order. Music has been incorporated in classrooms for decades and has consistently shown benefits in enhancing the educational experience overall. Unfortunately, budget cuts have reduced the amount of music taught in many schools today, so teachers must find a way to bridge the gap. Bringing modern music into the classroom to help students learn the basics and explore additional career options may be just the ticket.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @publicschoolreview

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