Thursday, 16 February 2012

UK #HipHopEd

On Wednesday 22nd February 2012 at 8-9pm GMT I will be on twitter, ending my tweets with UK #HipHopEd.

I wont be alone. I will be joined by teachers, educators and Hip-Hop artists who share an interest in Hip-Hop Education (however we might each define it) in the UK, and in the USA - the birth-place of Hip-Hop and the weekly twitter chat  #HipHopEd. We will be considering the question;

“What does Hip-Hop Education mean to us?”

The basis for a UK branch of #HipHopEd is purely logistical – 2am GMT on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning does not still well with a working life. Whether a chat by practitioners in the UK takes on a different flavo(u)r, remains to be seen.

Thankfully, the folks behind #HipHopEd have been very supportive and some plan to contribute on Wednesday too. This will be the first of 4 weekly twitter chats under the UK #HipHopEd label – after which we’ve agreed to review the process. I’m looking forward to hearing the views of practitioners and hoping we might all benefit from the experience.

If you’re interested in Hip-Hop, Education and Hip-Hop Education, why not join us on Wednesday 8pm GMT?

Reflection Eternal

I started this blog as a space to explore the relationship between Hip-Hop and education and what it means to me as a learner and and a teacher.

I was aware that people were writing books about the range of topics such as Hip-Hop pedagogy, Hip-Hop as poetry and the political, social and cultural meaning of Hip-Hop in the world today.

At the same time as I was reading many of these titles, I was trying to develop my own way of doing Hip-Hop Education along with a colleague at the primary school where I teach. We started a lunchtime club which now runs as an after school club.

Sometimes what I did was based on this emerging Hip-Hop Education literature, sometimes on critical and progressive pedagogy principles (the work of writers such as Paulo Friere, Augusto Boal, bell hooks, Matthew Lipman and Michael Rosen), sometimes on intuition.

My blog posts have been few and far between. Since discovering twitter, I’ve found a whole load of Hip-Hop teachers in the US and UK to share thoughts with. I’ve concentrated on blogging the project itself rather than my reflections on it.

Often it is very messy –but as it is outside of curriculum time we can afford for it to be experimental. Pupils are free to stop coming to the club at any time, so we necessarily have a different power relationship to formal lessons. Overall there are plenty of reasons for me to be convinced that this is something I should continue to practice, document and think about.

I’m finding the tensions within this project really exciting and interesting for my understanding of Hip-Hop, education and Hip-Hop Education. For example;

  • Process vs. Product in creative work with pupils
  • Hip-Hop as US art-form vs. pupils own local situation
  • Universality of Hip-Hop vs. honouring it as an African-American art-form
  • Promoting positive Hip-Hop vs. encouraging critical readings of all cultural texts
  • Structuring pupils’ projects vs. giving space for autonomy to be developed
  • Using established Hip-Hop songs vs. writing our own material for use with pupils
  • Creating relevant pedagogy vs. essentialising Blackness
  • Using pupils own experiences vs. providing them with new experiences
  • Rap as poetry vs. rap as a ‘gateway’ to poetry
  • Emphasising the individual vs the collective in learning & Hip-Hop

Of course, a quick think about many of these will probably lead most people to conclude that it’s not an either/or situation. But I would argue that these are genuine tensions at play in my experiments with Hip-Hop Education and that being aware of them is helpful as I make decisions both inside and outside the classroom. I think of these not as tensions that can necessarily be eased, but rather reflected upon as part of a continuing process.