The Power of Popular Culture in Education: History, Music and Visual Imagery

Positive Push. Jan. 2023. 200p. pap. $30.95. ISBN 9780979835827.
While this book has the potential to bring enriching lessons about Black music throughout history to the classroom, it falls short on understanding the needs and requirements of the average public school teacher. The book begins with Clinton pointing out the shortcomings of incorporating the contributions of Black artists into his visual arts program at a school he describes as predominantly white. An abbreviated yet thorough overview of Black history follows, and subsequent chapters provide background information on the history of Black music and pop culture in America. Objectives for each chapter are clearly stated. After the background information, activities for students of various ages to engage with Black music and pop culture are presented. The activities allow students to analyze media as well as construct a musical instrument. Each activity provides a way to assess students. Worksheets and sample rubrics are included, and technology is woven in where appropriate. The activities are easy to execute in the classroom. Back matter includes a list of free online resources and links to song lyrics. While objectives addressing levels of rigor are provided, the activities fall short by not identifying appropriate Common Core or other nationally recognized standards. While Clinton makes assumptions about the level of autonomy teachers may have in their classroom, he does advise educators to refer to their district-approved curricula for guidance as needed for lesson implementation. Overall, the activities contain valuable learning experiences, are easy to execute, and can be modified as needed.
VERDICT A useful addition to the teacher tool box, but not necessarily a must-have resource.

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