Just Do It (vs. Academics in Baggy Pants)

Promoting Urban Youth
with Academic Literacy
engaging Hip-hop Culture

Promoting Urban Literacy
with Academic Culture
through engaging Hip-hop Youth

Promoting Academic Literacy
with Urban Youth
through engaging Hip-hop Culture

Promoting Hip-hop Literacy
with Urban Culture
through engaging Academic Youth

Promoting Hip-hop Youth

with Urban Literacy
through engaging Academic Culture

Only one of the above is the name of a paper by Ernin' More & Jay De-A. But don't sweat it, cause it's all academic:

In the introductory lecture, we outlined all of the historical/literary periods that would be covered in the unit (Elizabethan, Puritan Revolution, Romantic and Metaphysical Poets from England, Civil War, Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movement, and Post-Industrial Revolution in the United States). It was our intention to place Hip-hop music—as a post-industrial art form—right alongside these other historical periods and poems so that the students would be able to use a period and genre of poetry they were familiar with as a lens with which to examine the other literary works and also to encourage the students to reevaluate the manner in which they view elements of their popular culture.

Um... yeah.

Or, you could all read Funky Intellect: Bakari Kitwana and The Hip-Hop Intellectuals (Village Voice, April 2002) by Jeff Chang. Or the interview with Justin Bua in format mag.

I'm just sayin.

I've been dragging my butt through crowds of papers claiming to be somehow someway about community literacy. Some are more relevant than others. One of the not-too-bad papers was David Coogan's "Community Literacy as Civic Dialogue" (Community Literacy Journal, Vol 1, No 1. 2006 pdf here for registered users :/).

For the record, this paper's not really about "community literacy" It's about "community conversation" which was inexplicably misnamed “community literacy” by Flowers and Peck in the mid-1990s. It's about university students using writing to try to make sense of a nearby poor, black community. The paper says they were trying to give the residents a voice and create a dialogue and shit like that. But none of that's true. The students were writing and thinking; talking and listening and writing and thinking. It was their project, it was them trying to organize narratives - and so it was their voices.

Still, I've read Coogan's piece about eight times now. Sometimes I choose to be angry about it, and sometimes I choose to be intrigued, but I never choose to be bored. I'm thinking that makes it worthwhile.

Here's a couple other riffs on the theme that are closer to my heart:
The concept of community literacy is based on the idea that local meanings and uses of literacy should inform the design and implementation of adult literacy programmes and that literacy programmes should respond and be flexible to people's expressed needs.
Chitrakar & Maddox
A community literacy project: Nepal, 2008

...contexts are what give literacy its social meaning from which technical and functional aspects follow. In other words, to generalize a discussion of literacy is to lose any sense of the meaning of literacy.
Jeff Grabill
Community literacy programs and the politics of change, 2001

Another paper I've been re-reading is Mary Hamilton's Just Do It: Literacies, Everyday Learning and the Irrelevance of Pedagogy (2006, pdf here).

This is still a fairly academic paper. She assumes we've all read something about Vygotski, for example. More vexing for me - cause you know what I'm all about - she sometimes blurs informal learning and informal literacy learning. So, for example, she writes:

A final, far reaching point is that everyday literacy learning does not respect boundaries between different communication media. It uses oral or written language, images, equations, symbols, sound, music, gestures, graphs, artefacts. Phone, screen, print, face-to-face interaction are used in combination and interchangeably, dependent on the task, convenience of access and preferred learning styles. This has led writers such as Kress (2003) and Gee (2004) to talk about “semiotic landscapes” or domains that are used to communicate distinctive types of meanings.” Everyday learning operates with activities and meanings created in a multi-modal space and resists attempts to separate interactions with technologies into different categories.
It's true that reading is reading, whether it's a cell phone text or a letter from a landlord. But there are boundaries that learners meet daily, no matter how we writers like to mix and mingle. Books may have images, and movies may have print captions, but reading a book and watching a movie are quite different things. I know, because I spend time with people who can do the one, and want to do the other.

Still, Hamilton's paper is refreshingly... familiar to the work I and my colleagues do in the housing neighbourhoods. And she doesn't pretend to be the least interested in hip-hop.

Catch ya in the breaks. :)

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