March 17, 2012 | 11:30AM
Celebration of Teaching and Learning | New York, NY
As an Advisory Board Member, I had the immense pleasure to attend WNET’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning once again this year. An event expressly designed to spotlight solutions rather than confrontation for K-12 education. The list of speakers and sessions were contemporary and offered remarkable talent and minds from critical areas affecting education ranging from global awareness, to STEM, literacy, leadership and whole school issues, and one of the most important issues facing schools and teachers today – the education of Black and Latino males.
I work in the educational technology space, and through my work have been focusing a lot on social networking in education, or educational networking, a term we have adopted through our work at the New York Comprehensive Center. We are often confronted with concerns over safety and appropriateness, however, our biggest stumbling blocks seem to be (1) fear of the unknown and (2) the lack of scientifically-based research which indicates that educational networking is better for student learning outcomes than traditional face-to-face learning opportunities.
On Saturday, March 17th, 2012, Day Two of the Celebration, I stumbled upon a session entitled Reality Pedagogy, Hip-Hop, and Urban Education: Performance, Pedagogy and Possibilities presented by featured speaker Chris Emdin, who you can follow on Twitter @chrisemdin. This presentation explored Reality Pedagogy, which:
- Recognizes the changes occurring within a student’s daily life be it social-emotional, cognitive, or physical transition
- Acknowledges student experiences outside of the classroom and uses these experiences as a source for culturally relevant ways to present the authorized curriculum
- Studies student perspectives on issues related to their own education experiences, such as ways to participate in particular classroom activities
- Permits students the opportunity to participate in defining what effective instruction looks like to them
Dr. Emdin and his crew introduced Reality Pedagogy through the infusion of hip-hop into truly transformative teaching. One example from the session came when DJ Static (@djstatic222) created a beat on the spot, demonstrating one of the many possibilities for merging mathematical themes, arts education, and educational technology. We were introduced to a number of other possibilities for hip-hop in education from free-styling to decomposing lyrics through hip-hop education based performances, and explored ways to introduce hip-hop culture and performance into teaching and learning.
While Dr. Emdin and his crew were not deliberately focusing on social networking as a tool for education, I couldn’t help but see the connections to our work on the topic. Dr. Emdin shared the message that for students, the places to celebrate are outside of their classrooms. For many of them, what they are celebrating is an escape from schools and learning. Dr. Emdin cited Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z lyrics communicating such a message. See, within hip-hop education, students are able to wholeheartedly engage in their learning process. When students are not pigeonholed or categorized by an annual summative assessment. They can actively interact with their classmates, teachers and mentors in a way that invites higher-order thinking, 21st Century Skills, and deep contextualized learning. As educators, we must stop being a hindrance ofstudent learning but become true facilitators of learning. To do that Dr. Emdin communicated that we really need to meet students where they are – whether that is in hip-hop crews or through social networks. Providing students with the opportunity to develop authentic student voice, which is the deep engagement of students in directing and owning their individual learning and shaping the nature of the education experience among their peers, will hopefully provide students with more ownership over their education and more incentive to thrive academically.
To join the conversation, check out the hashtag #HipHopEd.
To learn more about the work of Dr. Chris Emdin, check out his website here.
For more about our work with Educational Networking, click here.