I woke up this morning feeling a way. Here is some original thought that has motivated me to change my direction today. Away from that “feeling a way.” Being productive and changing lives by encouraging people to think outside of the box or rather look inside of the box to grasp what the builder of the box was thinking so you can rip that bitch apart and build something better. Not a box, maybe a large encompassing circle. A cypher.
“You don’t say good luck, you say don’t give up. It’s the fire.” (C) The Roots f/ John Legend The Fire
Most classes start with a “Do Now” or “Warm-Up.” Mine often start with a hip-hop cypher. In a cypher, students stand in a circle, spread at equal distances, and one at a time, contribute a rhyme, line of poetry, thought, idea, or affirmation. This circle is the pedagogical foundation of the work I do in hip-hop education.
On a recent February afternoon, just outside of New York City, only miles from hip-hop’s birthplace in the South Bronx, I asked my high school students to answer this question in the opening cypher; why should schools include hip-hop in the curriculum?
Christian, now a junior, told us that, “hip-hop is a culture and it’s just like learning about the Aztecs or the Mayans. We learn the origin, customs, and traditions [of hip-hop].” Recalling a recent lesson on hip-hop’s fifth element, Christian went on to explain that hip-hop offers students an…
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