Cultural Literacies Worldwide

Yesterday, Nakeeba shared with us the importance of tapping into the the soundtrack and music of our collective movements as Diasporic people.  She helped us to see how we can capitalize on this rich source of culture to deepen the learning experiences of our students. As we continue in this work of de-centering whiteness in our pedagogy we also understand that we must broaden our lenses as educators to see and understand the new ways of learning that are emerging among our youth. Throughout the world we are witnessing youth redefining the ways and means by which they acquire knowledge.

During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, attention was brought to the favelas, or “slums” in Rio de Janeiro.  Brazilian authorities were intent on driving out all sources of drugs and violence in order to prepare for massive numbers of international visitors. This obviously smacked of greed, racism and capitalist hypocrisy but it also shed light on these communities and their culture.

The youth of Brazil are tapping into technology and social media platforms like Youtube to learn, teach and share an emerging dance movement referred to as “Small Step Battle”. Kids are challenging each other to create better dance improvisations that draw from various styles like ballet, samba, modern and frevo, which is Brazilian Carnival style. This dance movement is proving to have a positive impact on the youth from the favelas as it gives them the opportunity to showcase their talents, build confidence and avoid the more negative influences present in their communities.


As we continue to see youth take ownership of their learning, we as educators must respond accordingly and continue to make room in our instructional day to allow for their self expression. We should not overlook the multiple literacies that our students bring with them into class every day.  Whether it is music, dance, skateboarding, body art, rhyming, hair, make-up, fashion or social media it should be welcomed purposefully in our classrooms, on a regular basis.  That thing, that habit we perceive as a distraction may in fact be the key to exploring students’ brilliance on multiple levels. More importantly, we must aim to empower our students to be change agents in their own lives and in this world.

Peace and love good people.

Please remember to like comment and share!


Leave a Reply