Beyoncé and Education The first time I saw the music video for , I was entranced by the amount of symbolism.
I was not alone, as in the weeks following its release many commentaries and critiques were written (ex. Many of my teacher friends flooded social media with enthusiasm for its possibilities for the classroom.
The course “Politicizing Beyoncé” was created by Kevin Allred in 2010 (
It is an interdisciplinary course that pairs texts on topics such as black feminism with Beyoncé’s music.
Given the intellectual curiosity for Beyoncé’s work, and the potential for using culturally-affirming, social justice-aligned media in the classroom, I was excited to bring her work into my secondary English courses.
My Literature Classes I used this lesson in three classes for rising high school sophomores and juniors participating in a five-week summer program meant to give them skills needed for their fall courses in their individual high schools.Right before I taught this lesson, two more black men—Alton Sterling and Philando Castille—were killed by white police officers, sadly placing those themes in the forefront of students’ minds.This song provided another way to illustrate the themes, allowed students to reflect on current tragedies, and gave students an opportunity to practice their analytical skills on a subject of personal relevance.As such, I focused on critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and tried to make the material challenging yet accessible and engaging. Achebe’s novel is a classic taught in many world literature classes, and it tells of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria both before and during British colonization.In this complex text, no one is purely “good” or “evil,” and one of the things I hope students take away from it is that even if you do not like someone (Okonkwo, the main character, is a difficult person to love as he is often angry and violent) no one has a right to tell another how to live.While teaching World Literature and American Literature in a summer program for minoritized high school students, I wanted to incorporate contemporary texts into our discussions of (Twain) so that students could compare different black, African, and African-American experiences.At the time of the lesson, we had already discussed themes in each text and how they related to current events, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality against people of color.I replied that we were going to use the lyrics (Williams, Brown, Hogan, & Beyoncé) and music video (Beyoncé) for Beyoncé’s to learn about thesis statements.Students were cheering, dancing and singing as we watched the video, and this engagement remained as I gave a more traditional Power Point-accompanied lecture on how to brainstorm on themes, create thematic statements, and write a thesis statement.The texts are diverse and include academic readings, novels, music, and film.Aside from these public forms of pedagogy, college courses also center on Beyoncé.