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Breakbeat Pedagogy

Hip Hop and Spoken Word Beyond the Classroom Walls


Brian Mooney

Breakbeat Pedagogy provides a groundbreaking framework for the inclusion of hip-hop culture in schools. Looking beyond the previous model of hip-hop-based education, Brian Mooney argues for school-wide hip-hop events, such as poetry slams, as the ideal site for students to engage in the elements of hip-hop culture. Working from the perspective of a classroom teacher, the author reflects on the story of Word Up!, a hip-hop and spoken word poetry event that began with students in a New Jersey high school. He makes the case for a pedagogy with the potential to transform urban schools and the way we think about them. This is essential reading for any teacher committed to social justice and culturally relevant education.
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About the Author


Brian Mooney is an educator, scholar, and author from New Jersey. He explores the intersections of Hip Hop, spoken word, literacy, and urban education. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in English Education. His research considers the effects of Hip Hop culture on teaching and learning.

Brian is the founder and curator of Word Up!, a high school poetry slam that champions the voices of youth poets and MCs in Hudson County, NJ. The event has featured guest poets, rappers, and teaching artists including Kendrick Lamar, Patricia Smith, Andrea Gibson, Sarah Kay, and Rudy Francisco. Brian’s work has been featured by national news outlets including The New York Times, NBC, Rolling Stone, NPR, SiriusXM, MTV, Complex, and others.

When he isn’t grading papers, Brian enjoys making electronic music, writing poems, and spending time with his wife and their cat, Tigger, who is the coolest.

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