getting the fingers

Today (day five: post foot surgery), I learned about finger tutting. Or rather, just tutting.

After spending several hours yesterday and into the late night working on a ujam “demo” for my e-book song, I began brainstorming what the music video might look like…kids dressed as robots…break dance sequences…who would do the rap interlude…if I could get a literary rapper…maybe a student, or even Andre 3000 to do it…

So this morning, I promptly returned the laptop to my lap, and through exploration of music videos (including Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)),” I happily found this video ad featuring JayFunk, a 20-yr. old Berkeley student:

Curiously, tutting is an offshoot form of contemporary street dance, named after Tutankhamen, since the movements mirror hieroglyphics–at least that’s according to Wikipedia.

This tutoriel from JayFunk is equally fun to try, albeit it made me feel very uncoordinated, but I laughed out loud at my multiple attempts:

How cool is this?  I mean, dancing with your fingers?  There are so many possibilities and directions to go with this.

In designing the ‘research/information literacy’ strand of AIM this year (the 6th grade study skills elective @ our campus), the driving conceptual focus will be inquiry-based learning/guided inquiry, based on the students’ own personal interests and curiosities.  Intrigued by tutting, and liquiding, and other contemporary forms of self expression, I am now really curious how pop culture informs these and vice versa.  So, I have my own self-generated ‘question of import’ for modeling inquiry with the kids.  Plus, I really want to learn how to do the Galaxy as my unique party trick.

And what about video tutorials that kids can make demonstrating their own talents? I filmed a student last year making a friendship bracelet, and that gave me the idea of a “Tapping the Talent” video series.  Kids could really have fun thinking about how to teach others, creating  tutorial videos, and then the library could host a “Talent-Con” featuring demonstrations and instructional sessions of its campus talent pool.

The other intriguing element of tutting is its conceptual genesis. Tutting is hieroglyphics in motion.  Sign-language as dance.  Animated pictographs.  While doing research recently for a potential unit project on literacy & reading, I read Proust and the Squid: The Story of Science and the Reading Brain. In the book, Maryanne Wolf gives a thorough explanation of how writing systems evolved, from the cuneiform inscriptions of the Sumerians to the hieroglyphic symbols of the Egyptians. The tie between language, writing, and reading is obvious as the fundamental crux of  literacy; but with the advent of variant forms of literacy in our digital, flat world, where does tutting fit in? How does tutting demonstrate transliteracy?  Is it also a form of visual, artistic, or cultural literacy? Besides being a very overt form of kinesthetic intelligence, how does tutting compare to mastering a routine in Dance Dance Revolution? Is being literate mean being able to do something well, or also understanding it well enough to know where it fits into the schema of our contemporary global society? Does literacy carry the implication of doing something with that developed capacity, in a productive or thoughtful way–making use of your skill, knowledge, or ideas?  Or once we reach fluency, we can or should move on to the next challenge? What does it really mean to be literate, nowadays? How can we ever be truly literate?

Maybe the blood flow is all in my foot and not in my head as I sit propped up typing this, but I really want to get a Wii now.

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