Sunday, May 10, 2015

Artistic Expression Comes In-Person and Blows Minds

Sofia Snow inspiring young minds

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” 


Aristotle has this one right. In the microcosm of room 105 in the west wing of my school there's a lot of deep work happening.  Artistic representations and presentations are going off in a safe space where students are writing about racism, stereotypes, prejudices - not in a hopeless way, or with blame or shame, but with concern and personal connections.  They're using their pens to move across a page like garden tools digging in to find its root.  And where it meets is best seen in poetry and personal narratives, where stories find rhythm and flow, and where every Friday, students have been signing up for Open Mic.  To artistically represent what's going on internally, and to face a sea of expectant faces - nervous yet free - is what grounds me.  

#hiphoppedagogy #TheWork

That, and the intellectual work I demand from my students to carefully infer, analyze, and question text from multiple genres tires them (and me) out.  Admittedly though, some days even the dopest music artist, funniest poet, or engaging story won't rock their minds to action.  But other days when they meet the artist - in whatever format presented, they will let you know.  

I wrote a unit based off of the book Rad Women A-Z, and though we investigated a few of them from the book, I mostly strayed towards women who represented the values and traits I wanted my students to notice.  With the letter S coming up, Sofia Snow was the only radical woman I wanted on my lesson plan, and not only that but my students let me know in their minds and actions that I chose well.  After watching Hazard Lights and In the Library: List of Demands (Because Anger isn't Lady-Like), and then using her poetry as mentor text, there was no stopping my students from bringing forth the inward significance Aristotle referred to.

#artisticnoise #truth

I could go on and on but I needed to document the work because it was powerful to watch, and even more significant that my students could meet Sofia in-person when she came on Friday to do Open Mic and gave a performance workshop.  She killed it.  They killed it.  #TheWork was killer. Here's how it went down . . .

Since my students already felt like they "knew" Sofia, they dove right in with questions like, "Why did you title your video 'Hazard Lights'?"  "Why did you become a spoken word artist?"  "Who in your life influenced you most?" "Does 'List of Demands' have a story?"  She was so gracious, answering every question with truth and dignity and there was no doubt (based on students thank-you letters) that many connected to her story in ways that were unimaginable in their young lives.  When students asked her to perform List of Demands, it was their high - as one student said, "I so much want to be like you, Sofia, thank you so much for inspiring me."

Sofia Fans

In other news, it's Mothers Day and John-Pio's card said I'm brave and courageous and thanked me for sticking by him for 10 years.  Misa made me pancakes and fruit, and Brad and the kids put in the traditional potted veggies and herbs.  And my trail run with Kate was scented with rainfall dew and trails littered with purple flowers.  The day was finally complete with a loving text from Emma - It was a good day.

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