Teaching Style:I consider myself a teaching artist. I practice a shared learning environment instead of a teacher-centered educational model. My best practices are based on traditional indigenous educational foundations developed to empower children of color growing up under Jim Crow. The goal is to empower learners to find their own voice, opinions, and vision from guided creative hands activities. I employ educational strategies to accommodate different styles of learning, provide notebooks for participants to take home, and life-time online access to my on-going research. Teaching is about a sharing exchange of knowledge. Everyone contributes regardless of age or ethnicity. It's about healing through the experiences of our creative hands.
DJ's Life Lessons (43 Years Teaching Experience):Poo'miikapii is a Blackfoot/Algonquin traditional ways of learning concept that translates into learning, teaching, sharing and healing. In a nutshell it means we teach, we learn, we share and we heal. This was my momma's credo, which she practiced while teaching in Nash County, Conetoe and Rocky Mount. Rooted in traditional indigenous Textile history these concepts give voice to cultural, social, restorative and economic empowerment within the global modern quilting movement. Algonquin and West African people have a long connection to cloth, color, pattern, rhythm, visual texture and stitching. That connection saved our cultural heritage in Coastal Carolina. Growing natural color, binding bundles for the dye pot, dyeing fabric and stitching it into wearables and bedding embellished with beads and shells empowered the development of strong women's friendship circles. These relationships strengthened our resolve to survive the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow.
Our three-layer quilt sandwich consisted of sustainable fibers from our land and was bound with sinew and spun twines. Finished products were shawl blankets as regalia to keep us warm, as well as bed covering for warmth. The design choices of how to put the basic ingredients of making a quilt together are parallel to healing experiences of putting the broken pieces of ourselves in health. Hate makes more hate. Anger generates intolerance. Vengeance punches self. The only person we can change is reflected in a mirror. We need to collectively grow up.
As indigenous survivors we push the boundaries; we harmonize using improvisational techniques; we break the rules; we make up our own patterns or deconstruct traditional ones into something new and unexpected. Poo'miikapii as an educational model was practiced in rural Southern segregated schools as resistance to Jim Crow Anglo indoctrination. Indigenous and West African women and men educator's transferred knowledgeable life skills and cultural heritage in Booker T. Washington traditional schools built in the Coastal Plains of the Carolinas. I practice the philosophy of Poo'miikapii in all that I share with others. My Momma says, "if you share with the world, the world will share with you!" And I know beyond a shadow of doubt that my Momma's Teachings are TRUTH!
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