Many of this season’s episodes focused on hip-hop being used in the classroom as a method of engaging students. Much of this has to do with the idea that music has always been a tool for teaching, and that hip-hop, because of its vast lyrical and stylistic components, can be referenced, adapted and used to translate complex ideas, in a language young people can relate to.
But for young people, particularly African-Americans, there’s a special relationship with hip-hop that transcends the music — it’s the culture, and many progressive educators understand that this cultural connection is not helpful, but mandatory when considering how to best educate today’s youth. One of the leaders of this thinking is Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings. Her theory and research around culturally relevant pedagogy has been a foundation in forward thinking education circles, and many of today’s leading hip-hop educators are proving her work to be vital in improving how we teach our kids. She is, as some refer to her, the OG at this, and it is fitting that it is with Dr. Ladson-Billings that we wrap the first season of Hip-Hop Can Save America.