In 2009 I was made redundant. I was doing a job that felt like I was dying everyday. The money was good. I was a Market Research Executive. I hated it.
Anyway I met an MC called Breis and he has been involved in creative education for like 8 years and I had always been curious about what exactly he does so I asked if I could shadow him and I did for a couple of his workshops in schools. I just sat in and watched. In my mind I was like “is that IT?!” It just looked easy or maybe he made it look too easy being so experienced and all.
One of the times he asked me teach in of the classes and boy I was not ready. I felt like I didn’t have any material to use to teach so I took a chance and asked for 10 random words that I could use in an on the spot freestyle which went down nicely.
So now I work with Breis and the company he founded Student Of Life. So what exactly do we do? It is all about creative education. Basically we go into primary, secondary and colleges (I even did a workshop in a Museum once) and conduct workshops to help raise the literacy level in a very unconventional way. We use rap, poetry and break it all the way down to show that it is an art that actually employs the principles of literature. Some of these kids have never seen rap in this light before. I also get to discuss the images and possibly reasons why certain artists write what they write.
It has been pretty challenging because I have been forced to actually study what I do and break it apart. I have had to properly research the history and all that. Rap is more than just bars, punchlines, metaphors and similes. I have also had to write new material because when I go into schools I am not going in a religious and evangelical capacity. I am going as an artist (the job title is creative practitioner or workshop facilitator ha!) who happens to be a Christian. The material I use is still uplifting and positive and most of these young folks have never heard skilful positive rap or poetry that is skilfully done (well I try to do it as skilfully as I can) to most of them it is a revelation. You see most people associate rap with negative stereotypes they are force-fed daily so being exposed to what we do is an education in itself for them and I am not just talking about the students, I mean the teachers too.
It has been an amazing experience of growth for me. I tell you never underestimate young people and what they are able to do. Some of these kids are known as troublesome problem children, (well that’s the teacher tell me) but in the workshops I do I have seen these same young folks produce amazing works of poetry, short prose and rap. I mean if you READ what I have seen 8 year old kids write it would really BLOW YOUR MIND, I am not even exaggerating. I have done workshops where I was asked to use creative writing to teach mathematics and German.
The main lesson I have learnt is you have to learn to listen all over again. As in really pay attention. The aim is to open up these young minds and hearts and get them to express themselves and give them tools through creative writing to do so. Some of them have never written this way before (or been interested) but end up discovering something totally new about themselves which is empowering for them; you can actually see transformation happening as they discover this, to me that is amazing and humbling to even be part of this process. It's just one of the ways I feel I can serve in the community and help my generation. Thank you Breis and big up Student of Life. For more info go to http://www.iamstudentoflife.blogspot.com
What I do for a Living