MONTREAL, JUNE 21, 2011- Students at Perspectives I Alternative High School in St. Michel recently experienced and took advantage of the ultimate learning opportunity. The culmination of a spoken word and mural project heightened the expressive imagination of many of the onlookers.
“At the best of times we find it hard for our students to express themselves, especially on tough topics like, love, money, greed, race, relationships, and marriage.,” said English Montreal School Board (EMSB) Pedagogical Consultant Otis Delaney. “These students relished in the opportunity to express themselves by creating Mural art and performing their own examples of spoken word and rap.”
Most impressive was the way in which the students took their outlook on life and translated it into a sophisticated and high level response on difficult issues that we face every day. “Watching the students on stage was encouraging and much appreciated as their varied and unique points of view gave them a voice,” said Head Teacher Barbara White.
Dawiyd Ephrayim Yisrael “aka” Monk. E and Moe Clark constantly encouraged the students to speak about the feelings that they so desperately internalize most of the time. The venue proved to be the perfect opportunity to create an “Open Dialogue” and forum to express some of their pent up feelings regarding school, life, and society in general.
There is value in learning about spoken word, mural art, and how to create your own rap songs , because students identify with these art forms and like it. The end result is a clear, authentic, and realistic message. It also allows the students to dialogue and develop their thoughts in a socially acceptable manner.
The newly created mural in the hallway of Perspectives I stands out, as it depicts symbols representative of the students. At first glance, the mural is rich with the students understanding of the world around them, and it gives a ‘birds eye’ view to their reality. The detailed and thorough art work created by the students shows the magnitude of thoughts crossing the minds of our students on a daily basis.
“In education we often talk a lot about student engagement,” said Delaney. “How do we keep our kids in school? This outstanding initiative is just one of the many ways to engage our students. The mural and examples of the students’ spoken word and rap songs are wonderful representations of the ‘Outside of the Box’ thinking that will keep kids in school. These approaches are cross-curricular and multi-disciplinary as they touch on visual arts, public speaking, writing, narrative and music (hip hop and rap). On May 9 at Perspectives I the stage was the classroom for many students that allowed them to express their valuable thoughts and expression. The mural created in the hallway is the students’ canvass showing their complex view of life. All in all it was very clear that all of the students were extremely motivated and learning was happening.