YouTh ink. Curriculum
Sacrificial Poets utilizes their own innovative arts education curriculum, known as YouTh ink. Workshops are based on a culturally responsive pedagogy that celebrates learning differences, and is designed to benefit participants in five specific ways: enhance emotional literacy, facilitate identity exploration, refine writing and analytical skills, develop performance and public speaking competency, and build self-confidence. Sacrificial Poets does not empower youth, rather we seek to create diverse, welcoming, and transformative environments where youth can empower themselves.
YouTh ink. and Literacy
Our workshops are aimed at improving writing and performance skills, and feature an emphasis on the use of figurative and descriptive language, storytelling techniques, body movement and gestures, voice control, eye contact, and vocabulary development. Furthermore, spoken word provides an avenue to address social issues relevant to youth in diverse communities. Sacrificial Poets is dedicated to fostering personal growth for youth by providing both a means by and a venue in which they can tell their own stories using their own words. The workshops are designed to provide youth the tools and safe space they need to express themselves, share their experiences, and kindle a greater sense of power, purpose and belonging.
Arts, Identity, and Achievement
Recent studies have shown that building positive identity, especially with regard to race, is a crucial factor in achieving academic success and promoting resilience. For example, a study conducted by the Heinz Endowments “found that ALANA (African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American) students performed best in settings that built on their culture and promoted their racial identities,” and that “culturally responsive pedagogy and positive racial identity can play major roles in promoting academic achievement and resilience for ALANA youth” (Hanley and Noblit, 20).
Furthermore, the researchers of this study stress the powerful role that art plays in this type of learning model, noting that “when students are actively engaged in creatively thinking, they focus in ways that call for flexibility in thought and an integration of emotionality, rationality and meaning that is necessary for success in academic settings and elsewhere” (66).For this reason, our YouTh ink. curriculum is infused with explorations of identity that lead participants in examining their life experiences, cultural backgrounds, and special areas of knowledge, interest, and expertise that help define who they are. These explorations happen through writing exercises and discussion, and the results are powerful pieces of poetry, storytelling, and performance that give students a means to express how they feel, who they are, and who they wish to be.
The learner-centered approach that our curriculum utilizes is aligned with what the National Urban Alliance calls “The Pedagogy of Confidence” as it “stresses situating learning in the lives of the students, eliciting and addressing their frames of reference, honoring their interests, their insights/voices, and their cultural and linguistic backgrounds.” As the NUA explains, this type of approach “recognizes that youth culture offers enriching and legitimate content and contexts for learning in our classrooms” (Sánchez, 52).