Bettina Love, an associate professor in the department of educational theory and practice in the College of Education, was recently quoted on the use of hip-hop as a teaching tool by NBC News.
While several teachers have recently been featured for connecting music to education, Love is quick to point out that African-Americans have been using this technique for decades.
“This goes way back; this goes back to our ancestors who used Negro Spirituals as a means of delivering coded messaging to get out of bondage,” she said. “It is the way our ancestors taught and they called it good teaching. Black teachers used rhymes and encouraged their kids to express themselves—to tell the stories that were important to them.”
According to Love, hip-hop education can help young, black students become more successful by giving them the chance to embrace not just who they are, but how they express and what they have to say.
However, she advises against using hip-hop as a teaching tool if educators are not familiar with black culture.
“You have to know something about black expression. You have to appreciate it and love it,” she said. “There has to be some cultural matching and cultural appreciation. I tell people all the time, it’s not just simply bringing it into the classroom.”
Love’s research, teaching and service are focused on understanding, contextualizing and deconstructing the formal and informal educational experiences of marginalized youth, including queer, urban and African-American groups.
Her work is informed by critical pedagogy, critical race theory and black feminism with a focus on creating innovative pedagogical practices through the use of non-traditional educational curricula, such as hip hop-based education, critical media literacy, hip hop feminism and popular culture.