N.J. ‘hip hop education’ teacher to host NYC workshop

by Laura Herzog, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

(North Bergen, NJ–August 05, 2015)  A N.J. teacher whose work garnered a classroom visit from rapper Kendrick Lamar in June is hosting a workshop promoting his famed method of “hip hop education.”

Titled “We gon’ be alright: The Audacity of Teaching Hip-Hop in Schools,” the event will take place on Thursday, October 15th, at Spreadhouse Coffee, 116 Suffolk Street, New York, NY 10002, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

According to an event release, the workshop will include “discussion that demonstrates some of the best practices in hip-hop and spoken word education,” including warm-up games from Theatre of the Oppressed, mini-lessons, and close-reading exercises with hip-hop lyrics.

Mooney, who teaches English at High Tech High School in North Bergen, first gained attention with a viral blog post that explained how he uses hip hop–including that of the Grammy winner Lamar–to inspire his students.  Lamar visited Mooney’s school on June 8th, in a high-profile event that was covered by The New York Times.

Mooney gave his students prompts based on classical literature and Lamar’s music, like “How is the influence of the ‘Black Is Beautiful’ cultural movement of the 1960s visible in both Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye (1970) and Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)?”

More information on the event, as well as online registration, is available below.  Tickets for the workshop cost $20 and can be purchased at http://www.thinkolio.org/think/hiphop.

What we will learn:

This Olio will be a workshop and discussion that demonstrates some of the best practices in hip-hop and spoken word education. This might involve warm-up games from Theatre of the Oppressed, mini-lessons, studying of student artifacts, close-reading exercises with hip-hop lyrics, and creative writing prompts.

Brain Mooney:

I’m an educator, scholar, and poet from New Jersey who explores the intersections of hip-hop, spoken word, literacy, and urban education. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English Education from New York University and am currently studying in a graduate program at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

I am also the founder and curator of Word Up, a high school poetry slam that champions the voices of youth poets and MCs in Hudson County. The event has featured guest poets and teaching artists from across the country, including Kendrick Lamar, Andrea Gibson, Sarah Kay, Jon Sands, Angel Nafis, Shira Erlichman, Ken Arkind, and Rudy Francisco.

When not grading papers, I enjoy making electronic music, writing poems, and spending time with my wife and our cat, Tigger, who is the coolest.

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