Will students’ classrooms eventually be completely dependent on cell phones and tablets? I honestly believe that one of the keys to improving student academic output is engaging them in what we are teaching. One of the keys to engaging students is by embracing youth culture and technology. By using innovative ideas and out-of-the box educational techniques we can challenge the statistics that expresses that only certain students succeed. Maybe then we will no longer rely on dismal numbers like the well known 3rd grade reading stats that some state agencies use to determine the amount of prisons to build. I hate to say it. For some of you old school educational purist out there this may sting a little. But maybe it’s time to UPGRADE education.
I am the first to say that in any endeavor fundamentals are important. However what if we could bottle unconventional genius? What if we could find a way to duplicate or even inspire those intangibles that make young at-risk kids like Sean Carter into mainstream media and business moguls like Jay-Z? As the video above so eloquently puts it; the hip-hop generation has always had to find ways to “flip nothing into something.” Although at times it’s definitely rough around the edges and highly commercialized, in its purist elements hip-hop is a powerful tool that is more than music. I am often brought in to speak to youth groups and adults about the positive and negative influence of hip-hop on the minds of young people. Usually I talk about how society blindly capitalizes on the financial draw of violent or misogynistic hip-hop without caring how it effects teens. Unfortunately this is mostly all that we as adults know about hip-hop culture.
Imagine if we could harness and utilize it’s power to build and change lives through designing the hip-hop classroom. Whether learning social education through the lyrics of songs like Jigga’s (Jay-Z’s) “Minority Report,” or learning to design complex web code to build videos hip-hop and youth culture in general is relevant and demands to be heard. Although having hip-hop classrooms across America may be years away, we as educators need to always push the envelope and find new ways to create that spark in young minds.