The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








What are you into right now?
There’s so much quality local hip-hop in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I’ve been involved with the scene for years now, and it’s alive and well. 

Learning with hip-hop
High school teacher develops new learning concept


The course you’re developing is called “Don’t Sweat the Technique: American History Through the Lens of Hip-Hop.” Can you tell us more about it?
Campbell values competency-based education. ... With my methodologies, there weren’t a lot of tools [to measure competancy] … so I started to develop the 5Cs model, assessing and providing feedback to students for their conceptual understanding, critical thinking, curation, communication and creation. I took a look at the business world and real world and looked at the big picture of what people will have to do over the next several years so we can prepare students to become resilient, self-reliant individuals who can find their own success no matter what that might change into. ... When the Christa McAuliffe came up as an opportunity, my students told me they’d rather focus on what they’re passionate about. They love the relationships they can build with teachers. My idea is to have kids come together in a cohort model and use hip-hop to validate that they understand the moral and sociopolitical aspects of modern American culture. I want this to be bigger than one classroom or idea. There’s a lot of willingness from students, mentors and educators across the state to invest in what a modern classroom can look like. 
This is obviously an unconventional project in terms of how most modern education is structured. How do you hope to integrate these concepts into the classroom?
[By using] a feedback model. As I’ve been providing feedback to my students, they have consistently said they get a lot of value seeing how they’re being assessed based on these five competencies. It’s not just some list of things they need to accomplish. Instead, there are a multitude of ways they can show that they’ve developed these abilities. We provide enough of a structured environment that still fosters autonomy and purpose, which allows us to more accurately assess their skills and abilities. [During my sabbatical] I’m going to be developing a digital platform for this program and seeking feedback from students to see what they need to make the platform better. 
What benefits does hip-hop provide for students?
Hip-hop has gotten a really bad rap. I think hip-hop paints such an accurate picture of American culture, whether good, bad or ugly. Hip-hop has always had the ability to communicate the realities of society. ... People frowned upon it because it’s not what they’re used to, and it doesn’t paint a rosy picture. ... [My students] have this view that hip-hop is what’s on their Pandora playlist, but it’s so much more. I don’t think you can understand hip-hop unless you understand its past. Instead of encouraging passive consumerism, hip-hop is an engaging art form, which is why it thrives.
What are some of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of how schools teach students nowadays?
Right now, the biggest strength, for my own environment at least, is that I have really good relationships with these kids. I sometimes have more honest and open relationships with adolescents, because I feel there’s a connection with what I want to do and accomplish and what they want to accomplish. I think where we’ve gone astray is with people looking at technology as this silver bullet for our problems. We’ve gotten away from that human aspect, and we’ll tell students to “do this because of test scores” or “do this because it’s what we’ve always done.” Another downfall is that there’s not enough time, energy and human capital to invest in finding students’ potential. … However, New Hampshire also has a very close knit community of educators, and when we see something that works and want to invest in it, usually we can scale it pretty easily.
What are you most looking forward to accomplishing with this sabbatical?
Putting what’s in my mind and in my classroom out there for others to benefit from. I want teachers to see that they can teach what they’re passionate about and students will be receptive, and the chemistry from those relationships is what will stay with students for the rest of their lives.
— Scott Murphy 

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