Blog Entry Education, Narrative Change

Meet the Bronx Educator Who Uses Hip-Hop to Teach Science

In the third video of the "Black Male Educators Speak" series, we featured Bronx native Edmund Adjapong, Ph.D., an assistant professor of education at Seton Hall University and former middle school science teacher who is using Hip-Hop to engage students in STEM.

As a science teacher in the same school system where I attended elementary and high school, I have noticed a significant lack of engagement and what many call an aversion for learning science among Black male students.

I see many reasons why students of color, who mostly populate urban schools, may not be interested in science and envision the field of science as distant and inaccessible.

As a teacher in a public school in the Bronx, I noticed that my students had a very similar connection to hip-hop culture as I had as an adolescent.

Students sing along to hip-hop music that they hear blaring from speakers from cars driving past the school. They constantly tap their pencils on the desk, replicating popular hip-hop beats. Even students’ mannerisms from the way that they talk, dress and walk are directly connected to hip-hop culture.

Students’ interest in freestyle battle rap, drawing and dance also have direct connections to hip-hop culture.

As a student in New York City public schools, I rarely felt a connection between my lived experiences and culture to the content that I was being taught. Schooling was never engaging to me, it was just something that I knew I had to get through.

Many years later, I notice that Black males I work with in schools share the same sentiment to schooling I did as a child.

Many studies suggest that Black male students begin to fall behind their White counterparts in the fourth grade in science, literacy and math due not only to limited instruction time and socioeconomic factors, but also a failure to embrace and use students’ culture to anchor instruction.

To effectively engage urban students—especially Black males—in learning science, educators must utilize an alternative approach to teaching that considers the realities and cultural backgrounds of these students.

To effectively engage urban students—especially Black males—in learning science, educators must utilize an alternative approach to teaching that considers the realities and cultural backgrounds of these students.

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