Hip Hop, Science, and What 'White Folks Who Teach in the Hood' Could Learn About Education

On March 20, 2016 TDP Associates attended the NYCORE (New York Collective of Radical Educators) Conference in New York City. Our Associates were given first grab at the early release of the newly published and highly praised book "For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin, PhD.

What we enjoy most about Emdin's book is its timeliness as it reflects our interest in assisting teachers in developing curriculum and employing pedagogies that value and legitimize the cultures and experiences of their students. 


In the book, Dr. Christopher Emdin, associate professor of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Columbia University Teachers College, reproves teachers who take teaching assignments in urban schools with predominately Black and Latino students as a sort of missionary assignment. For Emdin, the missionary teacher up for reprove has a savior mentality that causes them: 1. to believe Black and Latino students need "saving" and; 2. that any educational hurdles means these children are not teachable. After calling these teachers to task, Emdin guides the reader in how to employ the theory of Realty Pedagogy in the classroom. One example of this Reality Pedagogy in action is the Science Genius project in which Edmin along with graduate students from Columbia University Teachers College apply the theory and teaching technique with middle and high school students. 

This approach incorporates hip hop and the art of lyricism "to introduce youth to the wonder and beauty of science". Through the Science Genius, students receive lectures on a variety of science topics. After the lecture students are given the reins and are tasked with developing lyrically astute rhymes that reflect the lesson, vocabulary, and understanding of the content. In this vein, Reality Pedagogy is a pedagogical theory and approach that values and legitimizes the students interests and culture using hip hop standards as the rubric. 

"Putting forth his theory of Reality Pedagogy, Emdin provides practical tools to unleash the brilliance and eagerness of youth and educators alike—both of whom have been typecast and stymied by outdated modes of thinking about urban education. With this fresh and engaging new pedagogical vision, Emdin demonstrates the importance of creating a family structure and building communities within the classroom, using culturally relevant strategies like hip-hop music and call-and-response, and connecting the experiences of urban youth to indigenous populations globally. Merging real stories with theory, research, and practice, Emdin demonstrates how by implementing the “Seven C’s” of reality pedagogy in their own classrooms, urban youth of color benefit from truly transformative education." ~Amazon


Read more about Dr. Emdin and his work as highlighted on PBS here