Your response was very engaging. After reading your thoughts and summarization of the text, I also think using hip-hop or rap in my classroom is a good idea. There are many lenses that can be applied to these mediums: gender (racism, representation of males and females), class (how people speak, money issues and distribution) and deconstruction (how words construct meanings, however not always as intended or interpreted). David modeled this in our Chapter 7 Deconstruction presentation with the song “Hey Yeah” by Outkast and I was surprised at how many meanings could be uncovered from one song. It was also extremely engaging. It is nice when things that you value and are interested in are part of the learning process at school. Like you suggested, it is great when “students can tie what they are learning back to their own lives” and interests.
I like your idea of collaborating with your colleagues, particularly art and drama colleagues, to complete a larger focus on visual arts, dance, musical collage, poetry and song. Interdisciplinary studies allow students to work with a topic for longer and therefore, understand it better. They also are able to make connections easier. Also, collaboration fosters accountability of teachers and they can bounce ideas off of each other making instruction and assessment more efficient and engaging. I do wonder what kids would do if they hated the main area of focus but their teachers used an interdisciplinary unit. Also, how would this work in a city school where everyone is not in the same class?
If I was going to implement this in my class I would mix contemporary poetry/music with classical poetry/music to hopefully broaden students’ exposure and interests. In my mind, it would be a give and take of what they like and what I want to expose them to. I like your idea about performance workshops and spoken poetry, based on student-choice. Your idea to get students to self-evaluate before, during and after is something that is very important and fosters improvement.
You touch on some of the areas of concern, such as drugs, money and treatment of women. I think ignoring these issues does not make them go away and addressing them as a mature adult, rather than letting kids try to figure everything out on their own, would probably solve some of the issues rather than promote them. I know I listened to vulgar music when I was a teenager and no one ever explained to me the implications and consequences behind some of these ideas and words. I would simply send a note home to parents if I were to use this in my classroom. I would also check with my principal. It is important to realize that there are also positive rap artists and I would bring those into my classroom. For instance, Eminem does not use the word “nigger” and Mackelmore has anti-drug use and gay rights songs. I agree that through poetry and song we can look at relevant social justice issues that our students are faced with. This may push some boundaries but it would be engaging.