What youth program?

I had the benefit of recently reading my colleague Ruth Nicole Brown’s book Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (University of Illinois Press, 2014.) One of the most significant tendencies in this book was Ruth Nicole’s resistance to let her “program” for Black girls, Save Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), get pinned up against the wall as a thing — as a fixing Black girls program, as a feel-good-doing-the-Black-girl-work program, as a program that meets here and meets there for this long kinda thing, with this many people served towards that many outcomes, etc.

By the end of the book, I still wasn’t sure what SOLHOT “was” and, for that, I was thankful.

I read Ruth Nicole attempting to prevent SOLHOT from being named. She is keeping it slippery. By keeping the work slippery and the work private, she prevents SOLHOT from becoming “work,” like taxable labor kinda work. I think about this resistance historically, beginning with slavery. Slaves need to resist “the work” because they need to do a different kind of “work” (i.e. survival, rehumanization, etc.).

Ruth Nicole Brown is thinking about not letting her youth program become the work, the work of fixing Black girls, which simultaneously delegitimizes Black girls truths. She is not letting Black women working with Black girls become workers since these bodies are already overtaxed and under compensated.

“Dear so and so. Could you please come speak to us (again) (for free) during our listening tour? Sincerely, Power.”

The only way to not let it become that kinda work — to resist the disciplinary gaze that regulates it as work and delegitimizes the worker — is to keep it unnamed, to only speak in metaphorical rather than literal terms. It requires not talking to “the listener” on the listening tour. It requires not doing the work of maintaining an a la 1960s centralized organizational structure of resistance. And as that kinda work is resisted, a different kinda work can happen, like meditating on the anger and the absurdity of this moment kinda  work.

“Wait… we are still here? Since we are still here, then how about we just, like, stay right here… and then you can wake-me-up-when-this-shit-is-over, like when the work is done.”

Ruth Nicole is taking a different approach right now to talking about the work of youth programs and it is one that we have to take seriously, particularly when the impulse is to ask, “Is the work working?” Asking that question in and of itself imposes a tax, an uncompensated burden, on Black women and girls.



The Future of Homegrown Teaching Artists? Negotiating Contradictions of Professionalization in the Youth Arts and Humanities Fields

Winkler, H., & Denmead, T. (2016). The future of homegrown teaching artists? Negotiating contradictions of professionalization in the youth arts and humanities field. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 17(10). Retrieved from http://www.ijea.org/v17n10/.

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Abstract: Youth arts and humanities programs are providing invaluable learning opportunities for youth participants to become what we term “homegrown teaching artists.” After several years of artistic and pedagogic development, these alumni teach youth in the same programs where they were once participants. This phenomenon has emerged at the same time that the teaching artist field has become professionalized with new credentialed pathways through higher education. This simultaneity presents a paradox. Professionalization introduces formal standards and barriers to entry into the teaching artist field at the same time that teaching artists train youth who are racialized and low-income to become teaching artists through informal pathways in youth arts and humanities programs. In other words, the professionalization of the field is at odds with its aspiration to expand and sustain youth’s right to cultural self-determination. We address this contradiction by investigating the pathways and practices of three homegrown teaching artists before turning to implications for policy and practice.

Ride or Die: An Instructional Resource

The article I wrote with Ruth Nicole Brown for Art Education is now available for downloading without a subscription!

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 13.45.50Put on your snorkel and safety goggles, hang a pine-scented air freshener around your neck, and roll up your capri pants, because we are headed into the valley of darkness. If you want a hopey-changey-kinda politic, if you want to give young people a “voice,” if you think hip-hop is some mainstream practice, then you have come to the wrong post post-racial place. No: Here in the valley, the Barack bubble has burst. Here in the valley, we re-turn to terror because, Lord knows, we are about to be terrorized. Some of us know this terror well. For those who do not, they will come to know this terror as witnesses; their discomfort will reveal itself as beauty and/or privilege…

Moral Ambivalents, Mucks, and Mad Hatters!!! Welcome to Kara Walker’s Ruffneck Constructivists!!! The Greatest Show on Earth!!! If you have been down, be down!!!

If you haven’t, bring a shovel.

Before entering this Instructional Resource, teleport your crew. IM your homegirls. Mail the letter he is waiting on because you are about to leave yoursel behind… Or… Change your gait and exit this Instructional Resource at this time. We cool like that

Click here to download.

Movement capture for art education

FullSizeRenderI have a new paper in Visual Inquiry: Learning & Teaching Art (Volume 4, Number 3) that seeks to provide the beginnings of a conceptual framework for capturing movement that may be useful in and beyond traditional art education classrooms. My thinking for this paper began when I struggled as a novice ethnographer to capture the movement of participants in the field, particularly when movement was identified by participants, in this case, artist-teachers, as significant to their pedagogy. Drawing on various disciplinary traditions, I investigated different languages and technologies that we might use to capture movement, as well as how we might theorize movement, as well as capture in relation to the idea and practice of mobility. This paper is the first in this thinking on the topic. There is still more work to be done here. Thank you G. James Daichendt for publishing!

The malleability of youth

Youth is often conceptualized as a transitional period from the dependence of childhood to the independence of adulthood, which corresponds to the age of 15-24. The United Nations, for example, frames youth within this age range.

The positive youth development movement, now so strong throughout the world, is preoccupied with providing the conditions and resources that youth need to transition successfully from childhood to adulthood during this period.

A critical youth studies perspective offers a different point of view, and argues that youth itself, and the temporality of youth, is actively constructed and managed given social, political, and economic needs.

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