(Concord, NH) - Justin Ballou will use the "Socrademy" approach to teach American history through the lens of hip hop.

Credit: NH Charitable Foundation/Cheryl Sente

The Campbell High teacher has been awarded the 2018 Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical, giving him a year off with pay and a materials budget to bring his educational idea to fruition.

According to a release from the NH Charitable Foundation, which awarded the sabbatical to Ballou,
Ballou’s idea is to stimulate and better evaluate learning through a concept he developed called Socrademy. The name combines Socrates, the philosopher who worked to stimulate critical thinking, and the Academy, where ancient intellectuals gathered to study. Ballou aims to validate and share his program through a course entitled: “Don’t Sweat the Technique: American History Through the Lens of Hip Hop.”

“This isn’t just retooling Physics 101 or U.S. History,” Ballou said. “This is something no other school has done.”

The sabbatical was created in 1986 to honor Concord High teacher and Astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who died in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Ballou has taught social sciences for 13 years.