Culture was on display in the just finished season of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. It will also be on display in our classrooms this year.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has been criticised for the way he celebrates touchdowns and other successful plays. One of his favourite things to do is a dance called the dab.
Some commentators say Cam disrespects his opponents by doing the dance. But Cam doesn’t see it that way. “I’m just doing something that makes me happy and I’m being true to my roots,” Cam said when asked about the dance. Dabbing began in Atlanta where Cam was born.
Reading about this reminded me of when Usain Bolt won his first 100m Olympic gold medal at Beijing in 2008. As he did his lap of honour around the track he performed some Jamaican dance moves, the Gully Creepa and Nuh Linga.
Like Cam, Usain was criticised by TV commentators and Olympic officials. “He’s disrespecting the Olympics and his opponents,” they said. “He should just shake his fellow competitor’s hands and then leave the track.”
But Usain was celebrating as a Jamaican. “I love taking dances from Jamaica and putting them out to the world,” he said. Usain managed to change people’s attitudes – now his victory laps are accompanied by Bob Marley songs everywhere he goes!
Lisa Carrington became the first Maori to win an Olympic gold medal when she won the canoeing K-1 200 metres at London in 2012. Her tribes are Ngati Porou and Te Aitanga a Mahaki.
Lisa wore a pounamu necklace under her New Zealand uniform in the Olympic final, a muri paraoa (whale’s tail) made for her by her family. “You don’t feel so lonely out there when you’ve got this,” she said of the necklace.
As we start a new year with our students one of the most important things to do is to build a true sense of community in our schools and classrooms. One way to do that is to encourage and find ways for our students to bring their ‘cultures’ with them into the classroom and into everything we do.
Here’s a little something I saw on Facebook today, a post by Anapesi Kaili called “The original dab” (Tongan Tauolunga dance):
Have a great 2016 everyone.
Dab on ’em!
You can read more about Lisa Carrington’s gold medal victory and other inspirational Kiwi Olympians in my new book Golden Kiwis which will be released in May.