Magazine article Black History Bulletin

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Exploring Contemporary Social Justice Issues in the United States

Magazine article Black History Bulletin

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Exploring Contemporary Social Justice Issues in the United States

Article excerpt

"You will not be able to stay home, brother, You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out, Because the revolution will not be televised." (1)

Gil Scott-Heron

I have been teaching high school for fourteen years and U.S. history for two. Over the years, it has been challenging to create thought-provoking lessons that are relevant to my 11th-grade students' lives while covering the state-mandated curriculum. (2) The answer was to start my own personal revolution by making my teaching culturally responsive. "Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) can be defined as using the cultural knowledge, prior experience, frames of reference, and per-formance styles of ethically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them." (3) When I incorporated culturally responsive lessons and assessments with the state-mandated curriculum, students were engaged in learning.

I was impelled to join the CRT movement by an epiphany I experienced one weekend while listening to a 1974 recording by poet, composer, singer, and social activist, Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. I focused on his lyrics with an intensity that I often see in the faces of my students when they are listening to rapper and poet Tupac Shakur's lyrical social commentary. One Scott-Heron verse, in particular, included a refrain that calls for one to rise up and take an active part in social change; this refrain became my mantra ... You will not be able to stay home, plug in, turn on and cop out. This mandate for social activism inspired me to set in motion a new plan of action for the way I taught. I realized that I had to become more culturally responsive when teaching and engaging my students. One way to do that, I decided, was to design lessons around music from the 1970s to the present that explores social justice issues.

This strategy not only affords high school students an engaging and fresh look at recent history, the music's content offers ways of exploring issues of acceptance, self-respect and self-worth. These are important values in U.S. society, but high school students often struggle in their efforts to grasp and integrate them into their lives. The following lesson plan addresses these conceptual issues through the examination of music and lyrics from the 1970s to the present. In addition, it fulfills elements of the U. …

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