From “Air Force 1s” to “AND1 Mix Tapes” Cultural Aesthetics and Teacher Improvisation: The Knowing That Comes From Doing An Epistemology of Providing Culturally ResponsiveConflicting Curriculum Dr. Roland Mitchell Louisiana State University
Improvisation as a Guide for Teaching A. Improvisation holds potential for enhancing learning for African-American students B. Improvisation grounded in African-American experience is not essentialist in nature, but is eminently grounded in the collective histories associated with being black in America C. Improvisation is at the heart of the practice of some educators that have had documented success at teaching African-American students.
Limited Representations of Black Men and Boys • The popularized representations of being black and male are extremely narrow. • What about Preachers and Teachers—Leaders and Followers? • Why not emphasize the aspects of this culture of improvisation that are reflected in educational pursuits?
Why Hip-Hop “It’s culturally relevant for them as well as myself because we share the same cultural space. They’re a part of the hip-hop generation I’m also part of that generation. Therefore it’s a way to connect with them and I’m connecting on a cultural level and then we can begin to draw other connections for example how hip-hop music and its free-style relates to jazz. An idea of improvisation that ties into spirituals, gospels and field hollers and so on. It’s a way to connect with them and maybe to other kinds of cultural and social spaces. It’s a pedagogical way to connect that is meaningful to them on their terms. But then you can re-write the terms and take it to different spaces. I think that’s the goal of my pedagogy. Trying to find a cultural space to connect and then using that to open up other kinds of questions.”
What do the Experts Say • Teaching is political and must be transparent I think one of the biggest problems that we face as a society is apathy a level of social cowardice. We feel like if we just do our little minimal expected function that the whole of the system will function. History has shown that is just not the case. We have to have voices that will raise positions that needs to be heard and dealt with. The willingness to bring to light truth as you understand it that may not shine so positively on those who are in positions of power. It’s important to model in our work as teachers a principal of engagement with society.
What do the Experts Say • You Must make the topic relevant to the lives of students Driving while Black impacts both White and Black students
What the Experts Say All students bring important insights to the classroom It is my assumption that all of my students have knowledge to bring to bear and subsequently in the case of my African American male students it means making connections to African American cultural discourses helping them to see that they have relevant knowledge to bring to bear…connections to what’s being discussed in the classroom.
What Have We Learned The resulting conception of culturally responsive practice has specific implications for: • Teacher education practice • Policy concerning targeted hiring • Professional development for all educators • The potential scope of data collection and analysis in such teacher knowledge research