“But…. I Don’t Wanna: Music Teachers Struggling with Hip-Hop Music Literature in Their Classroom”
Educators are constantly asked, by students, to play or perform music that is outside of their comfort zone. “…but, I don’t wanna..” is typically the response. How do you bridge the gap that exist between the teacher’s opinion of what is acceptable and what is acceptable in the eyes of the student? Educators, we must remember to met our students where they are and embrace some of the elements that they “like” in order to work together to critically analyze and create a full experience for them in our classrooms.
When students give these request for more current or contemporary music in class, listen to them and please remember what music they probably hear at home, on the train (subway) and in the car over the course of their week. These request are coming from your audience, and my reflect their existence (understanding). It’s a request that should be listened to, and contains a valid message of “I’m interested in what we’re doing, but would love to play something I know and like”. They are inviting us into their space of inquiry, the pre-teen or teenage life. The secret life of teenagers, in which they choose to share or not to share their feelings. Teachers, please…take it where you can get it, and engage in dialogue about the music they are asking you to play in class as part of one of your lessons. To share, is an awesome “in” moment for teachers and students. You can use that request as a way to co-construct a real list of rap and/or hip-hop songs that you both can agree is acceptable for classroom use. Create a rubric, maybe even co-construct this together, and from there that can become something that is applied directly to the rest of the music (literature) that is used in your music classroom.
Co-constructing a space together is actually an aesthetic of hip-hop music and culture. The beauty of the art, that is hip-hop, comes from diverse elements coming together to create something groovy, that lock in well together. To work alongside your students to compose and name the world in which you live-in together is something that Brooks & Brooks would call, the action constructivism or the space of inquiry, a constructivist space. To make something, to create, is part of what Dewey would say is nature. Expand upon it and take advantage of this opportunity to make something, construct or share with your students. This is a great opportunity to engage in something positive with our students, and to expand the borders of understanding in your classroom space.