Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Chris Emdin #HipHopEd

Last night I got to hear Christopher Emdin in my own back yard. He was brought in to GVSU by the Black Student Union for Black History Month, without the College of Education or science educators even knowing about it. This is not going to be as much a recap as a response. I overtweeted during it as I think about that as my note taking now. (Here's the thread.) Saying he is a dynamic speaker is an understatement. He's the best presenter I've ever seen. It's a performance, it's heightened prose, it's preaching. Here's his SXSW keynote if you want a sample. And you want a sample. (Also his book, of course.)

So my response?


This is my vision of education, expressed better than I ever could. It is about acceptance of all the varieties of giftedness and personhood and a chance for them to do deep, meaningful learning as themselves.

Dr. Emdin's emphasis on story telling as a way to share your own ratchetness and enter into your learners' world really resonates with me. David Coffey and I have been talking lately about just how can teachers share what they do. A Teach Off giving a lecture? No. Telling the story of what they do and why they do it and with whom they are doing it? Yes.

Part of making space for that story is accepting the pain of those rejected and making space for it and the healing. I love his idea of swag/cool/ratchet as the in-between of wound and healing. It makes sense to me and ties in to some pretty deep beliefs I have about redemption.

Chris warns against going into the hood (which can be anywhere that people are marginalized) armed only with the pedagogies of oppression. Dewey and Piaget and Vygotsky are still heroes to me, but that means we must contextualize them as well.

He offers no panacea, but inspiration. Progress is possible. Learning is local. And embrace your own ratchetness.

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