Rise Up! An American Curriculum
Rise Up! An American Curriculum is a set of learning experiences inspired by Hamilton, An American Musical. It is an invitation to explore the universal themes found in the story of Hamilton and the artistic vision of Lin Manuel Miranda. Rise Up! uses creative inquiry to help students to critically examine historical and contemporary narratives and build a practice of expressing their own personal narrative through writing and performance.
Join content writers, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Chief of Program and Pedagogy at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Mariah Rankine-Landers, Director of School Transformation Through the Arts, for an immersive learning experience centered around Revolutions and Ontologies. Marc and Mariah will facilitate insights and investigations that directly challenge master narratives and support the imagination towards a new system of learning, living and being.
Please RSVP to this event by June 20.
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Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Marc Bamuthi Joseph is best known for making a highly physical, hip hop rooted brand of theater. The most widely referenced of his theater pieces is a choreopoem called “Word Becomes Flesh.” Structured as a series of letters from father to unborn son, the national touring version of “Word Becomes Flesh” featured Daveed Diggs in his last role before his Tony-winning turn in Hamilton. “Recently, I’ve become more known for locating my theater practice in the public realm, and using it as a platform to forge uncanny partnerships and activate under-resourced communities through a model I call the creative ecosystem. I’ve used this model as the basis to create urban environmental festivals called Life is Living across the country, and also used it to organize institutional Fellows at my professional home, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.” The public results of the YBCA model are both a new kind of theater, and also a viable, replicable, art-driven mechanism for social organizing.
Mariah is best known as Ms. Landers to hundreds of young people. Five years ago when Mariah stepped out of the classroom she entered into teacher leadership at Alameda County Office of Education to support the goals of arts education in schools in the Bay Area. As Director of School Transformation Through the Arts, she is a visionary behind what teaching and learning has the potential to be and how schools can develop systems of practice that encourage narratives of inclusion. She coaches educators at large to interrupt master narratives held in learning spaces that are designed to uphold white supremacy. She invites educators to critique established norms and return to spaces of love, joy and art centered education that responds diligently to the probing questions and needs of today’s young people. Mariah is sought out for her ability to design responsive curriculum centered in creative inquiry. She promotes and invites the educational system to redesign its purposes with the role of the contemporary artists at the forefront of how young people can develop the capacity for imagination, innovation, perception, and critical thought that will bridge and build a society that we all deserve. Mariah was particularly motivated by the musical “Hamilton, An American Musical” as a doorway to activate the changes in attitudes, assumptions and patterns of knowing that teachers and students should wrestle with. She leads with conviction that if you tend to your heart, tend to the art that motivates you, and lead with love, that our schools can dissolve the oppressive systems they uphold and become the sanctuaries we all need to fully bloom and become. In other words… Mariah slays the world of education and people want to be her when they grow up.
Excerpt from Rise Up! An American Curriculum:
The violence of war leads to the temperance of government. The revolutionary act is a tactical measure, but a revolution is a disciplined adherence to a new system of living. We might argue that this is the difference between the Revolutionary War, which lasted from 1775 to 1783, and what we might alternately call the American “revolution”, the ongoing and tumultuous attempt at implementing a rule of law and justice for all. Within the span of 200 and two score years since the end of the colonies’ war with the British, Americans have employed the term revolution to invoke an impending radical shift in who occupies power, but less often is the term colloquially used to imply a radical shift in the power structure itself.
Within the scope of Hamilton’s journey is the illumination of the human imagination, hustle, and perseverance it takes to carry out the bloody promissory note of war. Implicitly, the musical follows the line of inquiry of all great fiction in that it reveals in its protagonists what it takes to undergo a personal revolution. What are the set of conditions, character traits, and sacrifices necessary for an individual to experience a personal transformation? And how does one’s personal revolution echo the radical
shifts that a nation must make in its institutional character to truly serve ALL of its people? What are the parallels between several American revolutions outside of the military realm: the cotton revolution, the birth of jazz, Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the rise of hip hop?
These are complex questions to be sure, but Hamilton’s narrative affords us the opportunity to investigate a man experiencing radical shifts in his own life while his country initiates the process of revolutionizing itself. Our students might similarly take a moment to address life-altering moments of their own. Perhaps they might even envision how or what a personal revolution might look like if they could summon the courage or felt the need to reach towards one. By cataloging some common traits in five different revolutionary movements in American history, we invite students to explore new connections between Hamilton and hip hop, and between the Revolutionary War and the inner battles one must engage to achieve personal growth. -Marc Bamuthi Joseph