How hip hop can enhance classroom learning

One educator's account about how he infuses his love of and for hip hop into his other love - teaching. 

In his article, Untangling hip hop in the classroom, educator Floyd D. Beachum, said he needed a healthy understanding of what hip-hop meant in the lives of his urban students because, for most, it was what they listened to, saw on music videos, and discussed in their peer groups. By making attempts to understand their world, he said he was able to make education more relevant to their lives.

Here's an excerpt.

Hip-hop remained a powerful subculture with its messages of diversity, change, improvisation, and creativity.

But the 1990s also presented challenges for hip-hop and education. Hip-hop matured. It was no longer a passing fad, like break dancing; it actually had chart-topping and moneymaking potential. Many argued that this changed the messages communicated in the music.

Regional trends developed—gangsta rap, East Coast, West Coast, and Dirty South—and the voices were not always unified. Some may remember the East Coast-vs.-West Coast rivalry and the violence it sparked, most infamously with the deaths of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupak Shakur. The music was changing, experiencing some growing pains.

The challenge was for hip-hop to maintain its authenticity, stay true to its roots, and avoid commercialization while exploring new musical horizons, reaching different audiences, and expanding beyond the musical expression to a cultural expression.

These changes in the hip-hop scene were mirrored by changes in the classroom. Education was caught in a long-standing battle between traditional and progressive views; between a common literary/historical canon and rote memorization, and a diverse range of historical experiences; between the teacher as the sole dispenser of knowledge, and the teacher as the facilitator of learning.

Question: Do you think educators in urban schools, like Philadelphia, should try to understand the culture of their students?