TL;DR Version: In this fourth look back into my past for the #WALKMYWORLD project, I head back to 9th grade. Some of this content comes from an earlier post, and exploration of playing with Mozilla Popcorn.
One of the things that comprises my identity is a strong belief in education. To be a bit more specific, I think that there are a lot of challenges in life, but the best way to deal with these challenges is to educate yourself and meet them head on. This applies to studying in academics, reading a self-help book, or watching a YouTube video and installing a hot water heater. 🙂
Diving in a bit deeper, my thinking about education and meeting challenges is a bit more “active.” I’m a believer in empowerment and the ability to use education (and technology as a lever) to right some of the wrongs that life brings. Over the past year I’ve been thinking back trying to identify where exactly does this identity as an educational “rabble-rouser” come from. The furthest back that I can identify as being a possible starting point of this ideology is the end of 9th grade.
In thinking about the theories and principles that form my thinking about literacy, teaching and learning I have to go back to 1990. I remember walking around Wall to Wall: Sound & Video in Cinnaminson, NJ looking through the stacks of CDs (are they still stacks if they’re CDs?). I was looking for something new to listen to on my little CD player. I saw a poster and the the CD for Fear of a Black Planet sitting in the New Releases section. The cover, graphics, and message of the CD immediately attracted me.
This CD seemed to be something other than “me.” It seemed like this music was not meant for me, and I was fascinated by it. I grew up in a house listening to Elton John, class rock, and signing along to “Duke of Earl” with my father. This CD was so far from my culture it was like seeing something from another planet. I flipped over the CD and looked at the back cover. The images and track titles basically described a war that was underway and I had no idea what they were talking about. I needed to have this CD.
I brought the CD home and listened to it from front to back in one sitting on my CD player. I read through the album notes and tried to understand and break down the lyrics. The music was incredible and provided a sonic slap in the face to support the import of the lyrics. I couldn’t believe the circus that I was hearing, and the staccato punch of Chuck D.
I listened again and again over the coming weeks. I always used headphones because there was no way in hell I wanted my parents knowing what I was listening to. This was powerful, counter-culture (at least to my culture) and by listening, I was complicit in this revolution. No matter where I went I was listening to this album and “spitting” the lyrics as fast as I could stumble the words out of my mouth.
Many of the themes and messages behind the album appealed to my nature, and in some ways inspired the philosophy that I bring to my own views on education. My philosophy focuses on education, literacy, critical literacy, and empowerment. Many of these themes are seen across my various writings and presentations available online. Many of these aspects coalesced into elements of activism, cyber-activism, and advocacy in my dissertation. The end result is a documentation of my “philosophical statement”, infused with the power of online, multimodal informational text and guided by Chuck, Flavor, and Teminator X as they urge me to “Fight the Power.”