Creative Inquiry, Accessibility, Intersectionality & Racial Justice, Liberatory Arts Research Practices, Professional/Contemporary/Theatre Artist Dispositions, Critical Thinking & Reflection, Care, Investigation of Power and Privilege, Collective Action, Co-Constructivist Classroom Spaces
a: a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program - Merriam-Webster
A Collective Redefinition of “American"
How do we collectively redefine what it means to be “American” and reframe the land on which we stand as Indigenous? How do we undo centuries of erasure of Native American Peoples? This inquiry is a central complexity of Rise Up!, as we surface stories, old and new, left untold by the historical fiction of Hamilton: An American Musical.
“Old myths die hard, it is said, and few die harder than the Columbus discovery myth. The claim that Columbus discovered America is the original prevarication that laid the foundation for a national mythology at whose center is the deliberate discursive erasure of Indigenous Peoples. The statement itself is a misnomer. “America” as it is usually understood refers to the United States of America, but most people understand that in 1492 the United States was still 284 years into the future. The use of the term “America” as a synonym for “United States” also ignores the rest of North America, as well as Central and South America, where countless others refer to themselves as “Americans” (Latin Americans), so the term is far too broad to have any real meaning beyond reference to Western Hemisphere. If we are to be more accurate about a national origin myth of discovery, it would be more appropriate to say that Columbus discovered the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and Cuba. Except that from an Indigenous viewpoint, he didn’t actually discover anything.”
- From “All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 other myths about Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz & Dina Gilio-Whitaker
the art, science, or profession of teaching; especially : education 2- Merriam-Webster
Artist as Researcher
What is an “Artist Researcher”?:
“The exceptional thing about research in and through art is that practical action (the making) and theoretical reflection (the thinking) go hand in hand. The one cannot exist without the other, in the same way action and thought are inextricably linked in artistic practice.” -Janneke Wesseling
A stance, a role, and a practice. Like “Scholar,” this curriculum reframes both student and teacher as Artist Researchers, approaching academic inquiries through the curiosities and practices particular to professional artists. In this way, we deeply engage the investigations Hamilton creators... and artists through time... have grappled with complex ideas. Simultaneously, we aim to re-center the learner’s knowledge as core to understanding, and invite teachers to experience their classrooms as dynamic research and rehearsal spaces for co-creation.
Studio Pathways are entry points through the arts that support learning across content. For example, a learner might better understand how to approach a complex idea through the practice of contemporary arts and artists.
Dimensions of Understanding:
Dimensions of Understanding relate to Teaching For Understanding, a framework that supports meaning making through generativity, open-ended understanding goals that nurture inquiry driven processes, and performances of understanding that authentically show what students know as outcomes of their learning.
Rise Up! An American Curriculum uses the dimensions to investigate core inquiries surfaced throughout the lessons:
How might we deeply access connections between self, others, our community and the world through creating and embodying narrative?
Why are the national theatre arts standards, including the dispositions envision, develop, rehearse, select, prepare, present, reflect, interpret, evaluate, empathize, interrelate, and research central to deep understanding across all disciplines and learning?
How can we use theatrical techniques and artistic processes to develop our own historical/visionary fictions?
How can developing artistic declarations and dynamic movements empower civic action in the context of a deeper examination of U.S. History and impacts on present day realities?
We highly recommend utilizing Circle Process for many of the discussion questions, activities and curricular experiences here, and as an alternative way to use space in the classroom. Circle processes allow for greater equity of student voice and the minimization of “Sage on the Stage”-style teaching and learning. Included in circle process is the practice of StoryCircle, a structure that deepens the experience of circle processes.
Performance of Understanding
We believe that learners should have the opportunities to show what they know through meaningful, valuable, realistic and relevant ways that will continue to enhance their learning opportunities over time. We support educators moving away from textbook quizzes and exams to contemporary practices across the arts that offer students a way to share their knowledge.
Accessibility of Movement
Please have students use physicalized gesture and vocal work at their own level of capability, as most exercises have simple accommodations to seated/written forms as needed. It is best to clear the space as much as possible or find an outdoor/alternative location for the physicalized/performative group work. If students (or you!) are new to working physically and/or vocally, I liken the initial discomfort as similar to being asked to complete a rigorous or daunting academic task. Take a risk!
Rituals and routines in classrooms provide consistency of expectation with the opportunity to practice humanistic, values based practices that honor all learners. Opening and closing rituals make huge impacts on culture and climate when lead through non-oppressive ways such as a song that students like, giving props and affirmations at the end of class, reading a poem together. The possibilities are endless.