My name is Bettina Love. I am an assistant professor at the University of Georgia. My passion for teaching and research stems from my love of Hip Hop music and culture. As a youngster, my life was greatly influenced by Hip Hop. Hip Hop taught me how to believe in myself, overcome adversity, navigate my neighborhood. The music was also a site of learning about what was happening to my community, as I saw it overtaken by drugs and crime. When I decided to become an elementary school teacher, I wanted to integrate the music and culture that I love into my classroom, but I found that there was no space for my culture. This reality has driven my research and teaching. Thus, the newly instituted after-school program Real Talk: Hip Hop Ed for Social Justice is a dream come true.
The goal of Real Talk is to create an after-school program rooted in the principles of culturally responsive teaching (Gay, 2000; Ladson-Billings, 1994) critical pedagogical frameworks (Freire, 2003; Kincheloe, 2008;), and cultural modeling methods (Lee, 1995) to form a classroom which positions the culture, social context, learning styles and students’ experiences at the center of the curricula (Petchauer, 2009).
I am so happy that through Facebook and my website, www.bettinalove.com, I can share the power of Hip Hop pedagogy with teachers, parents, policy makers and Hip Hop heads alike. Importantly, I also aim to share how Real Talk is aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards provide a framework for what students are expected to know and what teachers are accountable to teach.
Over the next 14 weeks, we will be uploading video of the afterschool program. Each week, my two amazing research assistants, Marsha Francis and Mike Cassidy, and myself will blog about our experiences teaching the 5th grade class at Kindezi Elementary School in Atlanta, GA.
September 14, 2012
Each class will begin with a twenty-minute Hip Hop version of a morning meeting–an afterschool cypher. Afterschool cyphers are comprised of four elements: greetings, sharing, group activities and the message of the day. The purpose of the afternoon cypher is to create a place where students can share ideas, reflect on their day, merge social, emotional, and intellectual learning, and understand how Hip Hop is grounded in promoting community.
The first lesson of the program introduced the elements of Hip Hop using a KWL chart, drawing on the video where Afrika Bambaataa describes the five elements of Hip Hop.
View Video: The Birth of Hip Hop
After the students located the five elements of Hip Hop within the video, we discussed each element, with special attention to the fifth element, knowledge of self. Next we examined the video “I Can” by Nas to locate elements of Hip Hop and link Nas’ words of empowerment to the fifth element of Hip Hop. We ended the day by reviewing the Civil War. The students have been learning about the Civil War for the last three weeks in school. One of the goals of the program is to integrate school curriculum as much as possible into the program. We ended the day by linking the message of the day, “never giving up,” to the words of Nas and Harriet Tubman.
“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
I know I can (I know I can)
Be what I wanna be (be what I wanna be)
If I work hard at it (If I work hard at it)
I’ll be where I wanna be (I’ll be where I wanna be)
Next week we will continue to link the elements of Hip Hop to abolitionism and trace Hip Hop back to West African griots based on the students’ KWL chart.
Please comment on the videos, share with friends, and provide suggestions. My goal is to create a space where we can discuss the possibilities, tensions and misconceptions of Hip Hop education, social justice and teacher educator.