The Children's “Musifesto”:
Teaching Hip-Hop Unit Plan
by Antía González Ben
THE CHILDREN’S “MUSIFESTO” was designed as an interdisciplinary weeklong learning project for Social Studies, Language Arts and Music Education. It is composed by a total of five sessions, preferably to be carried out from Monday to Friday at a rate of one session per day. These sessions are one hour long each and include a wide variety of activities that range from 5 up to 30 minutes long.
The whole unit plan revolves around the topic of children’s rights, and it leads students throughout several stages that end up in the recording of a rap song composed and written by them. Therefore, a perfect time to develop it would be the second week of November, so that the song finds a natural niche and purpose as part of the acts of celebration of the Universal Children’s Day, on November 20th. Ideally, the song would be aired around that time at the school and/or local radio station(s) in order to help raise the pubic’s awareness about the issue. If so, the project would find a way of breaking the walls of the classroom and becoming truly grounded and meaningful for the students, who would be able to see themselves as agents of change within their communities.
Yet, despite of the fact that the final rap gets broadcasted or not, the project would still remain meaningful for a good number of students, given its deep connections with the hip-hop culture—which, by the way, occupies a central space in many youth’s lives. In effect, the unit plan departs from the analysis of a series of comic cartoons, which are one of the most genuine forms of urban visual arts, and it goes on through some thoughtful musical and literary work over a Spanish rap song of Latin American roots written and sung by a woman rapper (intentionally chosen trying to demystify the genre as an all-African-American all-male art form), to actually end up in the creation of an original rap song; all this intermingled with musical tagging, shout out cyphers, spoken word Haikus, human beat boxing and many more hip-hop related activities along the way.
THE CHILDREN’S “MUSIFESTO” is based on cooperative learning strategies from a methodological viewpoint, both regarding the students (who would be required to work individually, in small groups and as a whole class) and their teachers (who must work collaboratively in order for the project to be successful). Thus, it would foster the creation of a learning community in which its members help each other with a common purpose in mind: to grow as long-life learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers in order to be able to build a better society for all.
[Ed. Note: "The Children's "Musifesto"" incorporates work with, a translation, and a literary analysis of “Así es la Negra,” by Arianna Puello.]