A Hip-Hop Inspired Art Curriculum: A Pedagogical Tool for Developing Urban Youth's 21st-Century Skills of Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration



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Background: Today, American schools face the challenge of a narrowed art curriculum that focuses on the high-stakes-tested subjects of reading, writing, and mathematics. Teachers want to engage their students in active learning but lack the pedagogical tools to do so. Purpose: This study explored the perceptions of in-service art teachers who implemented a hip-hop inspired art curriculum in an urban high school setting for developing youth’s 21st century learning and innovation skills of critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration (the 4Cs). Critical hip-hop pedagogy (CHHP) and culturally relevant teaching were the conceptual foundations of the study. The main question was: What are art teachers’ perceptions of the implementation of a hip-hop inspired art curriculum? Moreover, this research explored two sub-questions: (SQ1) What are the art teachers’ strategies to integrate hip-hop elements into a high school art curriculum? (SQ2) How does a hip-hop inspired art curriculum help to foster critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration? Methods: This qualitative study used phenomenology as a research method to understand and discern the basic underlying structure of the meaning of participants’ perceptions and experiences. Data were collected from a combination of interviews, classroom observations, and open-ended surveys. Interview data were gathered from three art teachers in an urban high school, who had implemented a hip-hop inspired art curriculum. Observations were conducted and audio-recorded in three hip-hop inspired art classrooms, and open-ended surveys were collected from the participants. Results: The data interpretation yielded four general themes based on the findings of three interviews and observations: (1) reflection on teaching a hip-hop inspired art lesson, (2) teaching strategies, (3) instructional value and authenticity, and (4) relevance to the 4Cs of 21st century learning and innovation skills. The first of these themes was found while studying eight sub-themes, including (a) hip-hop’s role in the classroom, (b) storytelling, (c) self-expression, (d) perspectives in multicultural diversity, (e) learning style, (f) ways to increase a sociopolitical consciousness, (g) development of an in-depth understanding of art content, and (h) inspired learning. The second theme was found among three sub-themes: (a) diversifying instruction, (b) classroom management, and (c) culturally relevant teaching. The findings indicated that hip-hop competencies were possessed by art educators who assisted in providing an equitable education for developing urban youth’s critical, creative, collaborative, and communicative skills. The third theme included one sub-theme about the effective pedagogical tool, based on the findings of instructional value to specific practices of the hip-hop art curriculum. The findings indicated opportunities for educators to implement hip-hop culture as a pedagogical tool into art teaching. The fourth theme focused on answering the second sub-question about how hip-hop inspired art curriculum helped to foster critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. The findings indicated that there were the 21st century skills and knowledge attached to the hip-hop subjects that could be utilized in art classroom settings. Conclusion: Hip-hop inspired art curriculum can build opportunities for students to develop their critical voices and free space for artistic expression and creativity. Critical consciousness, collaborative engagement, artistic expression and creativity, and communicative approaches are all key factors of the hip-hop instructional value to help students share their opinions, open their critical voices, and tell authentic stories through hip-hop pedagogy in the classroom practices. At the end of this research, the use of hip-hop inspired art curriculum for the improvement of future implementation in urban high school settings was evaluated.



Hip-Hop Inspired Art Curriculum, Urban Youth, 21st-Century Skills