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Youth Culture Power

A #HipHopEd Guide to Building Teacher-Student Relationships and Increasing Student Engagement


Jason D. Rawls and John Robinson

In our schools, hip-hop culture is the dominant culture among the students. In Youth Culture Power: A #HipHopEd Guide to Building Teacher-Student Relationships and Increasing Student Engagement, Jason D. Rawls and John Robinson, educators and hip-hop artists with experience in the urban classrooms, focus their efforts through Hip-Hop Based Education (HHBE). They argue that hip-hop culture could be useful in building relationships and building student engagement.

The approach to achieve this is Youth Culture Pedagogy (YCP). YCP is based in a foundation of reality pedagogy (Emdin, 2014), culturally responsive pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995), and HHBE (Hill, 2009; Petchauer, 2009). In this volume, the authors lay the groundwork for YCP and how they envision its use within the classroom.

In Youth Culture Power, the authors put forth their C.A.R.E. Model of youth pedagogy to help teachers create a positive learning environment by building relationships and lessons around students’ own culture. Instead of forcing students to give up the things they frequent, Rawls and Robinson feel teachers should discuss them and when possible, use them in lessons. The purpose of this book is to present a fresh take on why educators should not discount the culture of youth within the classroom.

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Foreword (Christopher Emdin)


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Christopher Emdin

While cultural relevance in its many diverse and essential iterations has rightfully become part of the lexicon in schools of education and teacher preparation programs across the globe, teaching that reflects the culture of many of the most marginalized youth still remains absent or invisible. After decades of tireless work in advocating for culture, there has been an adoption of the language of cultural relevance and an overall acceptance that it has some role in teaching and learning. Unfortunately, this “progress” has been at the expense of populations whose culture holds tenets that challenge the very structure of schools. We accept only cultures that align to the existing structures of schools and search for justifications for why those that do not directly align are problematic. Cultural relevance then becomes the identification of cultures that maintain existing power structures or that makes power wielders comfortable. In particular, educators have not done much work interrogating the complexities of urban youth culture and identify its misalignment with the organizational and pedagogical structures of schools and schooling as a deficiency rather than a critique or alternate way of looking at schools. I assert that urban youth culture is not against education or being educated. It has rules of engagement and/or ways of knowing and being that support knowledge accumulation and creation. However, it is concurrently fundamentally ← ix | x → opposed to how knowledge is created, developed and transferred in traditional schools. In an era of...

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