I Am a Hip-Hop Collegian (Higher Education 12/21/2011)

When I first started thinking about my dissertation, I was considering one’s culture as the foundation; whether I was focusing on the massage practitioner, the kinesthetic learner, the foreign language learner, or the adolescent – I had to take under consideration the culture from which these individuals first learned how to engage.
Of course, the realization that culture was the common theme in my dissertation topic ideas wasn’t immediately clear. My goal was to find something that focused on learning theory; therefore I was concerned with the dependent variables rather than the independent ones.
Having recently read a preview of Emery Petchauer’s “Hip-hop culture in college students’ lives : elements, embodiment, and higher edutainment”, I find myself not only eager to read the book, but fascinated at my self-identification as a hip-hop collegian and thoughtful of future research studies started from this book.

When I re-initiated my journey with journalism in 2009, I was offered a position as the Tacoma Hip-Hop Music Examiner. For some, that title meant I only liked hip-hop music. The truth, however, is I love all genres of music, and this assignment only served to force me to learn about the hip-hop scene in Tacoma. It has been an incredible learning experience as I have found new favorite music, networked with local indie musicians, and learned more than I ever imagined about the music industry.
As I further embraced my love of writing and sought other writing opportunities, I began to consider the implications of a career that integrated writing, music, research, and education. More networking possibilities emerged. I voraciously searched for anything that merged music and education (without being music education) and discovered authors Oliver Sacks, Anthony Storr, and Daniel Levitin who advocate for music cognition. In February I will attend a national music industry conference. In March, I’ll attend a music cognition conference. I am now aware of how my fields of interest do integrate and can make me uniquely qualified as not only a writer and researcher, but also as a musician’s advocate.
My soul-searching remains unfinished. As I have said I realized my interest lies in both learning theory and the culture one brings to learning. One essential factor I have emphasized in the past is the learner’s understanding of his learning style and temperament – collectively called a learning strategy. One assessment defined me as “personally ideational with kinesthetic preferences”: I love to learn ideas, but I do so best in environments where I feel in some kind of relationship with the instructor and where I am able to “do”, not just see or hear what I’m learning. It would appear from Petchauer’s book I could also be defined as a hip-hop collegian:

  • For hip-hop collegians, it is natural to sample from all different types of knowledge sources for class because this is precisely what they’ve been taught to do through hip-hop.
    Another example is the idea of feeling something, or what has been called “kinetic consumption.” Feeling or affect is a legitimate way to engage with the world, and it is a quintessentially hip-hop way to engage with the world. Hip-hop first and foremost is meant to be felt. Period. Sure, it may be interesting, evocative, or even offensive —but all of this comes after its feeling.

I have never walked away from a class feeling that I have thoroughly learned everything offered in that class. That might sound strange coming from a self-proclaimed learner, but for me, I never felt it was necessary to know everything. It has always been about quality of knowledge, not quantity. I was interested in finding things that connected, and the unimportant disconnected information was only worth studying when there was a test. I suppose you could also say I have “sampled” in my search for integration of music, writing, research, and education. I skipped chapters on health and music or what types of music a person liked and instead focused on how music affected the body and mind in general.
The idea of “feeling” education, in my opinion, is the definition of a learner who is “personal” and “kinesthetic”. Learning has to connect in some way to my passions: travel, languages, music, movies, writing, strategy, etc. And, in order for me to fully learn, I have to emotionally and physically understand the information – not just cognitively understand it. I’ve often found a disconnect between what I know cognitively and what I know emotionally and physically. Typically I will remember longer what I first felt rather than what I first heard. Therefore, I believe I will add hip-hop collegian next to scholar practitioner and perpetual learner.

Implications for Further Research
If there is such a thing as hip-hop culture and such a type of learner as a hip-hop collegian, could there be a pop culture or a country music culture, and what would those types of learners look like?
Having not yet read Petchauer’s book, I can only assume he limits his discussion to college students.
What about the hip-hop culture in high school, and is it the same or different than that in college? Is understanding the hip-hop learner any less important than studying the hip-hop collegian?
I am new to this field of study, so it’s very possible some of the above questions have been answered. Finding answers to these questions and more only further solidifies my understanding that my fields of interest do and should merge.

Recommended Reading
Petchauer introduced the concept of hip-hop collegians with his dissertation, “Welcome to the underground: Portraits of worldview and education among hip-hop collegians”, published by Regent University in 2007. He has since explored the hip-hop culture as it pertains to college education with African Americans. While “Hip-hop culture in college students’ lives : elements, embodiment, and higher edutainment” is Petchauer’s first book, he has lectured on the topic as recently as November 2010, urging his audience of education students to use hip-hop as a method of teaching and to use the concept of feeling knowledge rather than just knowing.
Looking at just the date when Petchauer earned his EdD in education pedagogy, I will assume that he is approximately the same age as I. I am intrigued by his field of study and envious of his success in publishing. If his book is as good as I believe it will be, I will have to add Petchauer to my list of influences. Certainly, he has set an example for me to follow – publishing a book four years after earning his doctorate! I wonder if I can do the same?

I have requested Petchauer’s book from my library through interlibrary loan. With any luck, I should be reading it by the end of January. Stay tuned. You may find a blog or two about it!


About debhalasz

I am a free-lance writer, skilled in writing press-releases, profiles, web copy, articles, and album reviews. I also am a skilled researcher in all areas. I have a MS degree in Educational Pscyhology and am currently in the dissertation phase of my PhD program. My passions are second language learning, learning strategies, music, musicology, neuroscience, and neuroeducation. I am a fan of all genres of music and love learning more about both indie and major-labeled artists as well as the behind-the-scenes people who make them look so good! View all posts by debhalasz

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