University of Wisconsin–Madison

Educators study Hip Hop to improve academic results

For the last six year summers, teachers in the Midwest have spent a week at UW-Madison learning how to infuse their classroom lessons with hip hop to improve engagement with hard-to-reach students.

The educators study hip hop history, culture, and politics as they explore how to use this art to improve academic achievement and to energize their classrooms. They are encouraged to build curricula that engage literacy, critical thinking and creative writing.

This year, UW faculty will team up with Urban Word of New York City and others July 23-27 at Union South.

The Hip Hop in the Heartland Institute draws from many educational theories such as socio-cultural theory, culturally relevant pedagogy, critical race theory, and hip hop and social justice pedagogies, to help educators and community leaders apply hip hop as a strategy to reach marginalized students.

In the past, participants have included classroom teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, community and college educators, community leaders, and people committed to social justice and urban education.

Program faculty and staff include: professors from Teachers College, Columbia University; well-known poets from the poetry slam movement; leaders in the field of hip hop and education, and Dawn-Elissa Fischer (aka Dr. DEF) assistant professor, Africana Studies, San Francisco State University.

Hip Hop in the Heartland is presented by the UW-Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives, Urban Word of NYC, and UW-Madison Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate, with support from UW-Madison Continuing Studies, UW-Madison Education Outreach and Partnerships, and Madison Metropolitan School District.

UW-Madison education students are also learning this information in a credit class taught by Prof. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Curriculum and Instruction. CNN News interviewed her earlier this year about the class; you can view the report online.

For more information check the conference website.