May 4, 2010, - 6:18 pm

HipHop Curriculum: Your Day in the DeeKline of PublicK SKoOL EdYOOKayshun

By Debbie Schlussel

Got problems with students who can only, um, “converse” in Ebonics and don’t want to learn real English, math, or American history?


Meet Your Kids’ New Publick Skool Teachahz

Well, Hip Hop Hooray.  Do I have a curriculum for you!  My law school and business school alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has an “if you can’t educate ’em, join ’em” way to further downgrade your teaching skills and finally “get down with the struggle” and be real with your students.

Among the new high-flown languages in which you’ll be “educated” (or rather de-educated) to speak is “Nuyorican.”  And here’s more on this scintillating way of using hip-hop in the classroom (because our students aren’t dumbed-down nearly enough). Love that multi-culturalism.

Hip-hop workshop focuses on teaching tools

Now celebrating its fifth year, the Hip-Hop Educator and Community Leader Training Institute will be held on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus from July 7-11. . . .

Once again, the UW-Madison Office of Multicultural Initiatives will team up with Urban Word NYC to offer this weeklong program for teachers, educators, community leaders and education students to learn the best practices in hip-hop and spoken word pedagogy.

“Spoken word and hip-hop pedagogy is vital because it not only aligns itself with the voice of our next generation of young scholars and leaders, but also because it makes relevant a culture that has impacted and connected our global community,” said Michael Cirelli, executive director of Urban Word NYC and director of the institute.

Um, how can they use the word “scholar” and “hip-hop” in the same sentence with a straight face? Ditto for pedagogy. With hip-hop, it’s more like pedophilogy.

Institute participants will learn proven, hands-on techniques that will help them to develop lesson plans and strengthen their course study, as well as create a platform from which they will understand the scope of hip-hop history, culture and politics, Cirelli said. The learning component is supported with night programming by lecturers and performers who will synthesize the day sessions with effective strategies and cutting-edge multicultural educational approaches.

“Hip-hop history”? Is that like memorizing the day that Russell Simmons and Rev. Run bought their first pair of laceless Adidas? Or is it the date the first naked butt was shaken in front of the camera in a rap video? Or maybe it’s the first day Ice T smoked his first crack pipe with a stripper. Forget reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.  Perhaps it’s the day Professor Griff of Public Enemy uttered his first “Dirty Jew” reference.   It’s very important to America’s future that kids in school learn the important facts of hip-hop.

Math problem:  If 50 Cent has 9 bullets in his body, but gets two removed while all but two of his 30 tattoos are lasered off so he can star in movies, how many women did he infect with herpes divided by how many used condoms need to be recycled to keep things green?

“These opportunities will help educators deepen their practice as spoken word and hip-hop educators, as well as engage the best practices in student-centered liberatory education models.”

What the heck is “liberatory education”? Spare me. I don’t want to know.

This year’s instructors include lead institute instructor Michael Cirelli, Christina Marin on theatrical methodologies, . . . Patrick Camangian on the teaching tools to help students develop critical ideology, Lavie Raven on integrating art in the curriculum, along with Sam Sellers (DJ Rabbi Darkside) and Tracee Worley on using existing knowledge bases to broaden academic success, including standardized test scores.

New Book: How to Score 1,600 on Your SATs Through the Study of ‘Lil Wayne Lyrics While Visiting Him in Prison and Sending Greetings to His Four Kids with Four Women by DJ Rabbi Darkside. Yeah, that’s the academic ticket.

Daily workshops are paired with a week of evening performances featuring readings, panel discussions, hip-hop theater and a concert. Two poetry powerhouses, McKibbens and Regie Cabico will kick things off, while a fresh line up of local and NYC hip-hop artists close out the week. Featured artists include NYC underground kingpin Homeboy Sandman and the Vancouver/Brooklyn crew Old Money.

Yes, that sounds like the recipe for academic success and the highlight of becoming an educated American: listening to Homeboy Sandman. What–no HomeBitch SandHo? These guys are sexist.

The workshop is the winner of the 2007 North American Association of Summer Sessions “Creative and Innovative Program Award,” and enrollment in the summer institute has topped more than 40 community volunteers and educators. Now in its fifth year, the teacher-training institute has grown with additional support from both Professors Carl Grant and Paula Wolfe of the UW-Madison School of Education’s curriculum and instruction program.

Just how much federal and state tax money is going to finance this BS “instruction” on how to warp the young mind even more than it already is?

The following evening lectures, panel discussions and performances are free and open to the public . . . .

Friday, July 9

“First Wave Jump Off Concert” with NYC’s Underground Hip-Hop Phenom, Homeboy Sandman, and Brooklyn to Vancouver Transplants, Old Money, at 7 p.m., Wisconsin Historical Society Auditorium, 816 State St.

Saturday, July 10

Spoken Word Theater Piece “Daddy Dress Up” by Thiahera Nurse at 7 p.m., Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St. Nurse is from Hollis, Queens, and is the newest addition to the award-winning First Wave program at UW-Madison.

Wow, high culture. And you wonder why each generation of American kids is dumber and more incompetent than the next. A curriculum of “Daddy Dress Up” might be a hint why.

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164 Responses

Matt, if you’re really interested, then I would suggest staying away from MTV (and the author, by the way, who obviously has no clue about which she’s writing). A much saner, less offensive article, written by someone who can actually write, would be here:

Zenzele on May 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Some folks like to call those who disagree “uninformed.” It’s like Obama, when someone is questioning him, saying, “Let me be very clear” (subtext: since you seen to be too stupid to understand anything but a dumbed down version), Schlussel knows — but she disagrees.

    Why do people get so hostile about defending rap? It’s just Marilyn Manson on steroids — guaranteed to shock and offend.
    It’s entertainment wrapped in imprtance mainly because it’s black.

    Would people support white male singers going on about raping, nurdering, and racism against their group? Heck, no. People just tip-toe about race, It’s done more damage to black culture than the klan did.

    impeachthedude on February 23, 2011 at 12:58 am

You are so sadly misinformed. I don’t even understand how you were able to get a college degree let alone make it to graduate school.

Also, to attack a high school student’s form of expression is just low.

I’m sure you’ve never been to a poetry slam or even a First Wave workshop. You’re disgusting.

Izzy on May 6, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Ad hominem is not an effective debate tactic.

    impeachthedude on February 23, 2011 at 12:37 am

Where to start? You are another prime example of what’s wrong in this society. You impose your racist, ignorant, biased, and privileged views on something you know nothing about and will obviously never understand. The one thing I do commend you for is being honest about your moronic mentality, and not trying to hide it like most white people do. Let it out! You are intimidated by the power of a people, a culture, and a MOVEMENT, that you will clearly never understand. Spread that hate within yourself, not to others in this world.

Wendy Lopez on May 6, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Rap contributes to the dumbimg down of society. Kids grow up thinking insult is argument. The’re not the same. They aldo make it personal. We’re taling about “music,” but since you can’t defend it, you attck the messenger. The emperor has no clothes, and rap is not an art form, but a money-making, low-class form of mediocre entertainment for the unsophisticed.

    impeachthedude on February 23, 2011 at 12:42 am

Wow. Debbie, all I can say is that your article is living proof that hip hop and spoken word art and culture needs and deserves to be incorporated not only into youth education, but should be experienced by all. If your writing truly reflects what you think of hip hop culture – and isn’t just a lazy or sensationalistic piece – then I certainly encourage you to attend the Hip-Hop Educator and Community Leader Training Institute. It’s the antithesis of 99% of the hip hop on commercial radio and television, which seems to be all you’ve been exposed to…until now, perhaps?

MIchael Jones on May 6, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Indeed, she doesn’t have a grasp on the positive and informative messages that exist in many kinds of hip hop. There are particular “pop” radio finds that aren’t suitable for children in my opinion but educators like mcKswift for example are highly evolved individuals. Debbie needs to learn what the world has to offer. Things come in many colors and shades.

    Haskell Jules on May 6, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Do you hear the arrogance and anger in rap? The exlusiveness to the detriment of others? The poor, sloppy lsnguage and “hip} rather than correct spelling? The male dominance and female degradation? Glorification of thug life? You’re taken in if you think it’s an art form or movement. It’s kids being cheated out of their money by corporations who have no qualms about warpng kids’ values and coarsening the culture.

    impeachthedude on February 23, 2011 at 12:48 am

This is just sad.

Not on May 7, 2010 at 1:15 am

Debbie, please indulge in a little participatory research, go to the workshops. When you hear and see “Daddy Dress up” by Thiahera Nurse, you will be shocked in a good way. She is a brilliant young writer and performer. She does not deserve your criticism. I challenge you to go and actively listen to the information and participate in the activities. Real hip hop and spoken word will surprise you. The writing and performances are not the typical pop culture hip hop that is thrown down the throats of the world’s population. Urban Word is a respected poetry and performance for youth organization for a reason. They have been able to motivate young people to read, think, feel and write. Youth are excited to attend writing and research workshops.

Zera Priestess on May 7, 2010 at 6:45 am

Obviously you had what you consider a quality education? However your article is filled with misinformation, biased research, poor writing skills, and a lack of understanding of your subject matter. The FACTS include that these educational practices are tried and true to improve students performance in school and on standardized tests. These teachers and educators have helped their students exceed previous test scores though utilizing hip hop culture in their approach. There is TONS of literature out there about what these practices and pedagogies ACTUALLY are, perhaps you should look into a bit before making grandiose claims about your thoughts on the subject. I think you may have been miseducated and misinformed. Do your homework. (Letter Grade: F, Effort: 2)

osofly on May 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Do you see that you are attacking the person more than you are defending your case?

    impeachthedude on February 23, 2011 at 12:50 am

    The last thing schools should do is bring in a disfunctional culture and allow/embed it in the classroom. The kids need to leave all those negative influences on the street. School should be a place to be exposed to new things, of higher and more discerning standards. not a place to bring in bad habits.

    impeachthedude on February 23, 2011 at 1:05 am

I am sorry that I cannot think of a more eloquent way to say “You have no idea what you are talking about,” but you clearly have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

The fact that you believe that the work of these extraordinarily talented hip hop artists and educators is even tangentially related to the “work” of 50 cent and Lil’ Wayne speaks volumes. Your blog does not.

If this poorly written post reflects what you learned in business or law school, I will gladly write to UW on your behalf and ask for a refund. If you want to learn how to express yourself clearly, there are programs that can help. Have you tried hip hop education?

Angel D on May 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    OK, let’s look at a hip-hop “classic”—“U Can’t Touch This” (which, in certain circumstances, such as watching “Betty” beat up “The Chosen One” in “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” is quite amusing)—Ok, now, Hammer Time:

    “It feels good when you know you’re down,
    A Super Dope Homeboy from the Oak Town,
    A I’m known as such,
    And This is a beat, uh, you can’t Touch”—-now, I’ve selected this song because it is absent swear words, ethnic slurs, and violence towards women.

    Yet, even so, please tell me why time should be spent on this academically, rather than Strunk and White, unless the analysis one is doing is either sociological or musicological—and that on the Master’s or Doctoral level. There is no point to “teaching” this at an undergraduate or high school level, because one must learn how to do things correctly before you can learn how to play with incorrect idiom.

    And as for the slurring stuff—I think we have enough misogyny without learning how to propagate it.

    In short, your argument stems from spurious basis to even more spurious conclusions. Or, to put it in terms you’d understand:

    “That smells, that smells,
    What smells like crap!

    The worthless word
    you pooped in my lap!”

    Hammer Time!

    Occam's Tool on April 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm


Thank you for posting that titillating picture of Snoop Dogg and the scantily-clad women. Though I must say I actually feel more aroused by the the blue-eyed, blonde-haired beauty at the top of the page, which I presume to be your own likeness.

If you must be so absorbed with misogyny and over-sexualisation in hiphop, please attend to the broader societal context. A pre-occupation with attractive young ladies is an obssession of middle-age male executives whether they are programming Lil Wayne videos or Fox News discussions…

apl jus on May 7, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    But easily-influenced, growing kids eren’t influencedb by the taste of older men behind the scenes.It’s the glamorous thugs they try to act like.

    Gotta go, but I’m sorry for you Deb. The boys (even if they’re men) posting here have been brought uo to find violence funny or tittilating, degradation normal for girls, and mysogmy not a problem. We can only hope they grow out of it.

    impeachthedude on February 23, 2011 at 1:12 am

James Baldwin ~ “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?”

I say that the present skirmish is rooted in American history, and it is. Black English is the creation of the black diaspora. Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other’s language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world’s history, had been able to speak to each other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did. Subsequently, the slave was given, under the eye, and the gun, of his master, Congo Square, and the Bible—or in other words, and under these conditions, the slave began the formation of the black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed. This was not, merely, as in the European example, the adoption of a foreign tongue, but an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language: A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.

There was a moment, in time, and in this place, when my brother, or my mother, or my father, or my sister, had to convey to me, for example, the danger in which I was standing from the white man standing just behind me, and to convey this with a speed, and in a language, that the white man could not possibly understand, and that, indeed, he cannot understand, until today. He cannot afford to understand it. This understanding would reveal to him too much about himself, and smash that mirror before which he has been frozen for so long.

Jumper on May 8, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    That was a beautiful comment. Beautiful in content, and in the writing style. I think it is a poem in itself.
    Thank you for it.
    Erica Miriam Fabri

    Erica Miriam Fabri on May 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    My answer to Mr. Baldwin:

    When there is a work written in Black English worthy of a Nobel, something that can stand comparison to Isaac Bashevis Singer, then I will consider Black English (ebonics, or the language of hip-hop) as a worthy language of study for its literary content.

    Yiddish also developed as a language of a people under oppression. It was not used to degrade women in the coarsest possible way, and several Nobels were won by practitioners of the Language (including the aforementioned Singer).

    Crippling the minds of Black Children is a profoundly racist thing. Doing so under the guise of “helping” them is worse.

    Incidentally, you should know that this Jew’s two adopted children are Mayan Indians from Guatemala, so take your “you’re a racist” comments, cram them into a small ball, and shove them where the Sun never doth reach.

    Occam's Tool on April 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I think, Debbie, that you may benefit from actually enrolling the class, and learning to transform your histrionics into useful, thoughtful, deliberate criticism. Why speculate about what a course would cover when you clearly have no understanding of the course’s topic? Wouldn’t it serve you better to unpack, deconstruct, argue against a course whose topic you actually grasp?

Metta on May 9, 2010 at 11:39 am

Debbie Schlussel, obviously a supporter of having Rastus remain as the Cream of Wheat mascot, is clueless about Hip Hop Culture. Why do you people even honor her with intelligent rebuttals?

Tah Phrum Duh Bush on May 10, 2010 at 11:08 am

At the high school I attend, being white is a minority and 1/3 of the students live below the poverty rate. To students who are having difficulty learning or are non-responsive to traditional methods of teaching, tapping into hip hop, a strong part of their lives, can really get them motivated to learn.
Oh, and please don’t make judgments about things you know nothing about. You can’t honestly say you know what you’re talking about, because you have no idea who these people are that you’re talking about.
You need to realize there’s life outside of the conservative bubble.

Johanna on May 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

I crafted an artistic response to this blog, titled “THANK HIP HOP.” The first version of the song is just myself addressing the issues mentioned/implied in this article. The second version is a remix featuring an international cast of 9 Hip Hop Arts Educators. Please check them both out at, where they are available for free download.

Rabbi Darkside on June 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Snoop should jump kick you!!!
This post is ignorance at its finest.

Bisco on June 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I don’t even know where to start. If you are going to critique something in terms of its validity as a teaching tool, basing your argument on an argument that it makes students dumber and warp young minds, you might want to make your presentation of that argument as flawless as possible. As an acquaintance of mine, who happens to be a Hip Hop educator, informed me, you apparently don’t know proper English yourself. I assume that, by “And you wonder why each generation of American kids is dumber and more incompetent than the next[,]” you meant “more incompetent than the previous” because, otherwise, that’s as nonsensical as the rest of your comments.

One of your initial questions is “[u]m, how can they use the word “scholar” and “hip-hop” in the same sentence with a straight face? The answer is: very easily. Somehow during your obviously deficient education, you learned that academic achievements may only be accomplished by traditional methods, ones that seem to have failed in your case. Successful educators realize and and act on the fact that all students learn differently.

I, a scholar AND a hip-hop enthusiast (<– look! Same sentence!), am a recent law school graduate and educator who has used hip-hop in the classroom to help students learn to be better writers and critical thinkers and work toward getting a 2400 on their SATs. (Research may have taught you something not only about hip-hop, but also about that little test that colleges use to assess student applications.)

Slim417 on July 6, 2010 at 3:28 am

Malcom X once said that there is nothing more frightening then ignorance in action. I am also sure you remember the statement that it is better to be thought of as a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Both statements apply to you Debbie Schlussel. It becomes apparent to any reader that you are not objective and you haven’t taken time into researching how hip hop can actually improve student performance. Have you even attended a hip hop class? From what I am reading you have not. You are making an assumption that we are only perpetuating ignorance in the classroom to our urban youth. That is far from what we mean. I teach the origin of hip hop at my school. I also teach African American History, Black Political Issues and Current Events. I am under the belief that this Hip Hop class will serve as the gateway to a higher conscious and critical thinking for this generation. Do you have another/better suggestion? Remember the bible scripture ” Hear ye the conclusion of the whole matter….maybe then you will open your mind to hip hop in the classroom.

Bernard Harris on September 4, 2010 at 2:59 am

This is such a sad blog. However, I’m so happy that this happened because it shows the true ignorance of a place that it supposed be progressive. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but your speaking about topics as if you have a clue. As a scholar, you should know to educate yourself about which you shape an opinion.

If you knew anything about hip-hop in the UW and the admissions policies regarding first wave students, you would know that they are quite impressive in their performance as students. They deserve to be here more than you did when you were given everything in life and then decided you knew something about adversity. Please keep it up. Everyone needs to know that the opinions of Debbie Schlussel are the opinions of many in the University who fear change and loss of control.


David Coleman

David Coleman on November 15, 2010 at 3:58 pm


iHonestly never thought iD see these type of days in my lifetime… the days when people would use ignorance for attention… The world does NOT need another “Nancy Gray”. Fact is, you try to degrade our culture simply because you’re afraid of us… so, you hide behind your desk and computer w/ your degrees on the wall from the SAME university that has been opening doors for the inner city youth to make their living situations better, not only for them, but for the world…. because fact is, everyone didn’t grow up w/ a silver spoon in their mouth…. God loves EVERYBODY. No matter race, color, social class etc….

You’ll most def be in my prayers..

Derrick James

Derrick James on November 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I certainly found this offensive. I also think this could not be written without the knowledge it would draw heavy criticism. I hope that was more of the purpose, otherwise it was just plain ignorant and irresponsible.

Professor Lyrical

This aired Friday. It is about my work as a Hip Hop artist and college math instructor at Northeastern University.

Professor Lyrical on January 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Your hate makes me want to hate you, but I understand that it is your hateful ideas which make me cringe. Thank you for being so transparently discriminatory and prejudice.

B. Fox on April 26, 2011 at 1:47 pm

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