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Practicing Hip-Hop and Objectivity

by Behnosh Najafi | | Posted under School's Out News

by bobbi morrison

The Afterschool Matters Fellowship tackled the process of documenting an observation of a group interaction during the meeting of October 20, 2012.  One of the fellowship participants taught a sample hip-hop dance lesson for 15 minutes. We were divided up as observers and learner-participants. It was an eye- opening experience as we shared our descriptions of the lesson and our subjective responses to our observations.

Educators also learned some hip-hop moves at the Bridge Conference this year.

Educators also learned some hip-hop moves at the Bridge Conference this year.

Our account of the experience was directed to listing the factual objective information from our subjective response to the lesson.  One of the difficulties in trying to recount the experience with a so-called innocent eye, or one without preconceptions of the experience, was that we recognized immediately the experience differed for those engaged in the learning or teaching and those who had been just watching. Further, the viewpoints were fractured by each person’s own physical and mental filters of the experience.

Thus I learned the importance of using non-evaluative words for describing a lesson objectively. This meant using sensory indicators to measure such things as room space, numbers of participants, placement, spacing of the teacher and students, body movements, facial expressions and what we heard, or what people expressed.  On the other hand, sharing our subjective experiences about the lesson brought out how a similar event can have a multiplicity of potential interpretations, and this was reflected in the more emotional language, particularly for the participants.

The feelings of those involved in the dance lesson varied widely: some people were challenged by it and enjoyed it, while others found it frustrating or discouraging. And others felt so engaged by the activity that they did not pay attention to how anyone else was doing.  Still others felt frustrated not to be able to view their fellow dancers, and some felt distracted by the persons around them. On the other hand, as one of the observers, viewing the lesson from a distance, I was able to see broader patterns of the group as a whole, but did not have a strong emotional attachment.

The lesson seems to be that our own perceptions can provide only a very narrow view.  However, by synthesizing the various perspectives, we can reach a broader vision of what happened. The point is to use this insight in carrying out action research projects.  Like the blind men and the elephant, we can all touch a piece of the reality of a group experience.  Our challenge is to find a way to put the pieces together into a coherent whole, and our reward is the pleasure that comes from working in this fellowship in pursuit of that common vision and objective of creating powerful and effective action research that will help to infuse Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into our children’s education.

This lesson also impresses upon me the importance of collecting a variety of data, even as it applies to observational data, in order to ascertain this multiplicity of perspectives in  my action research project. More particularly, as it relates to collecting observational data I think it would be important to not only asses the class as a group but also to  survey individuals students, before and after the proposed curriculum infusion as well the teacher or afterschool educator involved in the project.

You can learn how to do “the wave,” a popular hip-hop move. Watch this brief video of Flow Francisco breaking it down at Bridge!


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