As we think about the ways of knowing and being that our new century students embody and the way hip hop culture has permeated our every day lives, we must begin to think deeply and differently about how we teach, what we teach and why are we teaching it. And center our inquiry and practice on what are the students learning, how are they learning and what are the many ways they can show what they’ve learned? This is the blueprint to our master plan. We must stay centered in Paulo Freire’s ideology that education is for liberation and not for subjugation or indoctrination, as Brother James Baldwin told us.
Our musical inspiration for this session was Eric B and Rakim’s Paid in Full:
Thinkin of a master plan ’cause ain’t nuthin but sweat inside my hand.
Our guru, Chris Emdin has asked us for the last decade plus, to consider using hip hop as a tool to engage urban youth and we, here at CREAD have answered his call. We’ve decided to use the elements of hip hop to help us guide how we craft our units of instruction.
Side Bar: Check out Emdin’s masterful keynote speech at the SXSW Conference, wherein he makes his case, AGAIN for how we rethink teaching urban children and peep the way he challenges educators, both white and black to wake up and stay woke, or get out.
In our second session of the Cypha, we dug deeply into the elements of the Barber Shop and Beauty Salon conversations, What does the hood know, and using music as text. We under-girded that with experiences that reminded us that collaboration and competition leads to a sharpening of iron and that when the community is strong and united, we create space and room for our students to shine.
We know that when we are rethinking and revamping our curriculum in order to center our children of the Diaspora that sometimes we can be bold and bombastic, and other times we have to be strategic and discerning. Because the powers that be may not be on the same page as us or our students.
This session focused on our summative assessments, knowing that in some of our schools, those are set in stone and in others we have freedom to craft and create. For those of you who work in schools where assessments can’t be changed or challenged, we ask you to take guidance from the enslaved in Brazil; dance for the master, keep your body and mind fit, entertain him with your moves and with your joy. All the while, you train in the discipline of Capoeira, the Afro Brazilian martial arts. Stay ever prepared for the right moment and time when you strike and break free from your chains and provide a pathway of freedom for those who come after you.
Teach our students to subvert the system through your actions and not just your words and platitudes on their liberation. Set your mind on your liberation also. Translation: find ways to complement the schools summative assessments with ones that will empower our students and yourself. Reignite your creativity and willingness to take risks.
Finally, in the words of our late and great Brooklyn griot, never let them know your next move, don’t you know bad boys (and girls) move in silence and violence.
The end of this post got mad militant didn’t it?
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