Ciphering to the Centre: It's About a Mindset

We have just had the privilege of learning about the hip-hop culture with Christopher Clare (AKA, Mr. Clip) and celebrated a successful residency with a culmination in our “Bust-a-Move” Showcase Night. The major draw for students and staff from this residency was the concept of the cipher, which Mr. Clip honoured respectfully and allowed our students to showcase their individuality.
According to Wikipedia, “a cypher or cipher is an informal gathering of rappers, beatboxers, and/or break-dancers in a circle, in order to jam musically together.” Once you "step into the cipher," you are offering to share your skills, as well as your story, with a group.

In this respect, ciphering is a great model for schools as it involves taking a risk, putting yourself out there for others to see your talents, while sharing your unique story. What is imperative is that educators work with students to create safe spaces for students to feel free to take these risks. Our classrooms and hallways need to be environments in which students can step outside their comfort zones, so that they can proudly step into the centre of their learning. It is about creating a culture of growth mindset.

In her world famous book, “Mindset: the New Psychology of Success,” Carol Dweck tells us that ability, intelligence and talent can be developed; they are not static or fixed. In essence, we are challenged to grow our brains and avoid a fixed mindset. For instance, instead of saying, “I'm not good at dancing,” a growth mindset person will say that, “I'm going to train my brain to apply the strategies I've learned in order to dance to the best of my ability.”

As schools continue to shift towards a student-centred focus, activities like ciphering which encourage risk taking in a safe space, enable students to grow their brains. In a fine arts integrated school like St. Dominic, this concept of growth mindset is so vital, as risk taking and creativity are characteristics which we wish to foster in our students.

As educators, it is important for us to empower our students and staff to feel safe to take that step forward and proudly develop our talents and abilities. This is why an integrated fine arts approach connects so well with growth mindset, since it encourages the use of visual arts, drama, music, movie making, dance and more to support unique ways for students to explore and express their learning.

At St. Dominic Fine Arts School, we continue to build a safe space for your children and seek to empower them to take risks with the arts as a focal point for engagement, creativity and innovation. In essence, we are encouraging our students to cipher to the centre, just like Mr. Clip demonstrated. We are challenging them to proudly take risks and tell their stories in unique ways, so that they may grow as diverse learners.
Remember, “Every mistake you make is progress” (source unknown), so challenge yourself and step to the centre of your learning.

Cipher on...St. Dominic community!

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