Beats to teach

Sometimes, hip hop can be a powerful educational tool.  And I’m not just talking about teaching some kids the alphabet or with some kids hip hop.  I mean actually directly incorporating hip hop into the educational curriculum. 

That’s what Nikki Giovanni did.  This isn’t the first time we’ve covered Giovaani’s work, either.  We did one of our earliest posts about her, in fact, and we’re still proud of everything she’s accomplished.

Now, Giovanni’s using hip hop to teach kids about poetry.  This is from the NPR piece about her:

Giovanni’s new book, Hip Hop Speaks to Children, is a celebration of poetry that includes several examples of rhythm and rhyme by artists ranging from Langston Hughes to Queen Latifah.

"Hip-hop is a cultural expression — it’s embracing," Giovanni tells NPR’s Michele Norris. "And we wanted to cast as big a net as possible, so people can see in the house of hip-hip there are many rooms."

The book touches on love poems, blues tunes and jazz — even gospel, including a live session where actress Val Gray Ward reads from The Creation by James Weldon Johnson.

Personally, I like the incongruity of seeing Langston Hughes juxtaposed with Queen Latifah.  Not exactly an everyday comparison. But I do see the value.  It’s not uncommon in many cultures to use rhythm and cadence to pass down wisdom.  Almost every culture’s folk music does this in some way.  And if nothing else, it sounds like Giovanni’s using some decent artists (including A Tribe Called Quest) in her teachings so at least kids will grow up with some new artists to listen to.

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