Getting Real III explores hip-hop pedagogy, performance and culture

Sept. 20, 2012

by Valeria Davis

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) has partnered with several New York-based educational institutions to offer a dual-location hip-hop education lecture series via videoconferencing through Dec. 10.

The free "Getting Real III" lecture series will provide weekly 6:30 p.m. Monday-night lectures by top scholars and specialists. The Madison videoconferencing sites will be in the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. or Lowell Hall, 610 Langdon St. Limited seating will be on a first-come basis.

This series will help participants connect hip-hop as both an art form and a pedagogical tool to improve the academic success of students.

Cosponsored by the UW-Madison Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer and OMAI in collaboration with the Hip-Hop Education Center, New York University's Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and Columbia University's Institute for Urban and Minority Education, the series features guest speakers and videoconference audiences.

Speakers will focus on how hip-hop culture and culturally relevant pedagogy can be used to help bridge the academic achievement gap. A complete schedule of presenters, topics and locations can be found on the OMAI website.

"The basic premise of the series is that true critical thinking is stimulated through a critical pedagogy — one that challenges typical orthodoxy to help students ask incisive questions about the nature of the current social, political, economic, and cultural order," says UW-Madison education Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings.

"One of the more innovative strategies for engaging students in critical thinking is through hip-hop culture. Hip-hop culture pulls on the organic and local culture of students to help them see the ways grassroots movements engage learners and help produce transformation," Ladson-Billings says.

Among this year's lecturers are UW-Madison Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Damon Williams; legendary lyricist and iconic hip-hop pioneer MC Lyte; New York University Professor and director of the Center for Academic and Spiritual Life Marcella Runell Hall; City University of New York Adjunct Professor of Black and Latino Studies and Sociology Joseph Schloss; Ernest Morrell, professor of English and director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Columbia University's Teachers College; and Professor Pedro Noguera from the Steinhard School for Culture, Education, and Human Development and director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University; along with a host of other faculty and artists.

UW-Madison site lectures will be facilitated by Assistant Professor Chris Walker, UW-Madison School of Dance and artistic director for OMAI. The New York University and Columbia University site lectures will be facilitated by Martha Diaz, director of the Hip-Hop Education Center.

This series will help participants connect hip-hop as both an art form and a pedagogical tool to improve the academic success of students, said OMAI Executive Director Willie Ney.

"The Getting Real III series — through videoconferencing with lecturers and participants located hundreds of miles apart sharing a virtual common classroom — is literally a demonstration of where technological innovation is taking us in the global culture," Ney says.