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Landscape of Urban Education lecture series presents 'Hip Hop Genius: Remixing Pedagogy, School Design and Leadership'

April 16, 2012

Jennifer Russo
(315) 443-4751

The School of Education's Landscape of Urban Education series will present “Hip Hop Genius: Remixing Pedagogy, School Design and Leadership” on Thursday, April 26, at 4 p.m. in Watson Theater. The lecture will be led by Sam Seidel, author of the book “Hip Hop Genius, Remixing High School Education” (Rowan & Littlefield, 2011), and will examine the unique knowledge of urban students and look at how schools can go beyond the typical study of rap music to represent urban culture. The lecture is free and open to the public, and CART will be provided.

Seidel will talk about how hip hop's creativity and swagger propelled it outside of its local roots and into the global arena, and how these characteristics can fundamentally change how we think about traditional leadership, teaching and school design. Two colleagues featured in Seidel's book will join him to discuss hip hop’s potential in schools and society: David "TC" Ellis, the founder of the High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) in St. Paul, Minn., and Casandra "Lil C" Sherry-Rojas, a recent graduate of the school, will talk about their personal experiences with hip hop and the role it plays in the HSRA, which has been dubbed "Hip Hop High."

Seidel is an education writer and consultant, and his work focuses on creating innovative solutions for problems in schools, community organizations and prisons. He graduated from Brown University with a degree in education history and policy. He currently serves on many boards of educational groups, including AS220, a nonprofit arts organization in Providence, R.I., and Resource Generation, a national nonprofit that works with young people committed to social change.

Blair Smith, a cultural foundations of education doctoral student, proposed the idea to bring “Hip Hop Genius” to the School of Education. After meeting Seidel at the 2011 Imagining America conference and sitting on a panel to speak about her experiences with hip hop in higher education, Smith says she felt that “Hip Hop Genius” could start an important conversation within the School of Education, and at Syracuse University in general, about hip hop's potential to change urban education pedagogy and ideas.

"I hope the ‘Hip Hop Genius’ event introduces a discussion about hip hop culture and pedagogy outside it being a way to potentially reach students in urban settings,” Smith says. "We want participants to gain an understanding of how the High School of Recording Arts' school design can be utilized in other urban settings to help students take ownership of their education and development."

Smith, along with Don Sawyer, director of the Syracuse University Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, will moderate a discussion after the lecture with Seidel, Ellis and Sherry-Rojas about HSRA's school design and what its applications might mean for Syracuse high school education. Other panelists will include Wendy Nastasi, cultural foundations of education doctoral student and director of Imagining America’s CNY PAGE program; Jennifer Bennedetto, teacher at Nottingham High School and director of the Spotlighting Justice youth organization; and Adam Ce’ Debaca, director of Westcott Youth Radio.

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