Sunday, 20 March 2011

Hip Hop Teacher?!

Ok, don't get it twisted.

The title of this blog is not some grandiose claim that I am  about to school you in the ways of Hip Hop. Nor is it a claim that I am 'The T'cha' within the culture of Hip-Hop - the title will always go to KRS-1 in my book.

Rather, this is a space for me to try and work out if there is any mileage in trying to understand my role as a primary school teacher in the UK through the prism of Hip-Hop. Why Hip-Hop? Who says it's a prism? Er, I don't know the answer to the second question, but I'll say a little about why I think Hip-Hop is important to me and what I do.

The way most people tell it, Hip-Hop and I both entered the world around the same time, albeit on opposite sides of the Atlantic.  Apart from the well-documented early tunes that reached the charts, I first heard Hip-Hop through the Streetsounds 'Electro' Series (shout out to Morgan Khan). Kids were starting to bring out the lino or use the school gym to break, and I admit to joining in without much success. I remember vividly at age eleven walking past a group of breakers, having finished my football training, and thinking 'they're practising just as hard as we were just now, but they don't have any adults organising them and showing them what to do.'

But it was the words in Hip-Hop that held the most fascination for me. I loved the idea of writing little stories that I could perform (usually to an imagined audience, but later to real people). Shortly after my purchasing my first album, 'Raising Hell' by Run DMC, I had two poems published in the local newspaper. Actually they were raps, but at fourteen I'd clocked that it might not be a smart move to admit that, if I wanted to have them published. So I tried to do Hip-Hop without confessing that I was doing Hip-Hop. It's only recently I've realised that this approach has been present regularly in my life, especially in teaching.

When I try to make sense of my identity as an educator, Hip-Hop seems to be there saying "Come on! You know I've been with you since back in the day. When are you gonna give me my props?"

Maybe it's time to come clean...

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