What is the Woke Cypha?

Hello Family,

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Last week, we here at CREAD hosted our very first curriculum planning session, what we call the Woke Cypha.

And yall, it was fantastic. But before we share with you a taste of how it went down, we want to get ya mind right to receive it.

At the centimages.jpger of our work with teachers, as they craft new century curriculum for our new century students, is how do we ensure that the education of our Diasporic students is engaging, empowering and liberating? Because, as my good friends Brian and Lurie Favors always remind me, “the education needs for the descendants of those who were enslaved, differ from the educational needs of those who descended from slave owners.”

That is fiya! Right? That quote will keep your mind all the way right, all the time. I think you should write it down and put it up in your classroom or office.

I’ll wait. Go ahead and write it. And if you didn’t; click on the link above. You really should watch that youtube video. I’ll be here when you get back.

imgres.jpgSo, boom I dropped a term earlier, “new century student.” Have you heard that term before? For me, that term was made salient by the mother of CRE, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, in her piece titled, Stakes Is High”: Educating New Century StudentsIn this piece, Ladson-Billings illustrates the characteristics of a new century student:


• They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”
• Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys constitute “American Royalty.”
• If they miss “The Daily Show” they can always get their news on YouTube.
• Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
• They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
• Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.
• “Star Wars” has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.
• They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.
• The “Twilight Zone” involves vampires, not Rod Serling.
• They watch television everywhere but on a television.

Now while I have not conducted a scientific study of these students I have made some “testable” observations about them as learners and these tendencies should be considered as we evaluate our teaching:

• They believe “multi-tasking” is an efficient way to work.
• They see themselves more as “consumers” than “students” and as such they are either “purchasing” an education or “shopping” for schools.
• They receive their news and information via push notices from their favorite Internet sites, blogs and programs like “The Daily Show.”
• Although heavily invested in “social justice” they are less sanguine about “social welfare” (particularly if they have to bear the costs).
• E-mail is an “old technology” and would prefer to communicate via instant messaging and tweets.
• “Library” research can best be done on their desktop, which means they rarely leaf through an entire journal.
• They believe it is important to “stay connected” thus their phones are always at hand (and classes that prohibit cell phone use interrupt their connections).
• They have very different conceptions of copyright, intellectual property, and plagiarism rules.

If we were to agree with the OG, GLB that means we must approach our students and our curriculum in a new way, a way that centers them, which means it centers youth culture; hip hop, technology and the desire to innovate and create.

When we here at CREAD sat down to ideate around the kind of lens woke teachers would need to develop to reassess and review their curriculum, we naturally thought about hip hop. I mean, what says youth culture, more than hip hop? We analyzed the elements of hip hop and made a bridge to how those elements could be…should be used in schooling.

It is from this, that we developed CREAD’s Woke Cypha and our Elements of Curriculum Development. Over the next couple of weeks, as we work with educators, we will be sharing them with you, showing how this woke lens engages students and challenging you, our readers, to use them in your daily practice.

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In her article, Ladson-Billings explains that there is a digital divide and technology gap and it’s between our schools (ummm, that means us the teachers) and our students. “The teacher on the flip phone is unable to keep up with his or her smart phone-using students to maintain live Twitter feeds or classroom blogs. When our students can access information and knowledge through iTunes U (http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/) and other open access online classrooms, we must create more imaginative and engaging spaces in our courses and think differently about what it means to teach.

These young people are not slackers who do not care about education. Quite the contrary, they desire to be deeply engaged in learning. But they do not want to receive a passive education where rote memorization and regurgitation passes for learning. They want to innovate, create, and implement. They are, as hip-hop science educator Christopher Emdin of Teachers College, Columbia University says, “science-minded,” and as science-minded individuals, they want to “do” science rather than read about it.”

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Ok, now that we thoroughly have your interest piqued, here’s a taste of our first session of the Woke Cypha.

Check us out every week as we drop jewels and mics and share with you our cypha.

In solidarity,

Remember to comment, like and repost.


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