Eric Cork, the energetic founder of Rap, Rhythm & Rhyme: Rebuilding the Writing Foundation, visited Abaco for the second time in four years. He provided a mesmerizing workshop experience for primary and high schools students.
Mr. Cork is no ordinary educator. He is renowned from the United States to the Caribbean for his method of teaching writing techniques. He does not use long speeches to instruct and does not ask students to write endless list of words or to listen to boring grammar syntax. Instead he treats them to loud, contemporary music that they identify with, dancing sessions and fun exercises that incorporate all the rules of proper writing.
The workshop was held on November 8. It was full house at the Grace Gymnasium with nearly all the schools of Abaco represented, from Fox Town to Moore’s Island.
In her introduction of the educator to the students, Dr. Lenora Black outlined all the advantages of being a writer. “Writing is a form of therapy,” she said; “you can inspire millions of individuals across the globe; flexible hours allow you to work from home and outside of your primary job; moreover you do not need to dress up when writing. You are going to be inspired,” she promised, “as we choose to rebuild the writing foundation through the use of rap, rhythm and rhyme. Please welcome Mr. Cork, she continued, who is a wonderful friend, a person of excellence.”
Mr. Cork did not waste any introductory comments but immediately broke the ice in the audience by inviting a couple of boys to the stage to demonstrate their dancing capacity.
He soon had the kids completely involved, interacting with each other or with their accompanying teachers. He was jumping about the room, asking questions or quizzes to students and teachers alike, inviting them individually to the stage to participate in exercises while synchronizing music complemented the task.
His personality energized the room. Spelling became a game that went with rhyming.
Mr. Cork then tackled the construction of an essay, enumerating universal essay requirements such as sticking to the subject, presenting a well elaborated story, using varied words, showing a strong organization and having no major errors in usage. By interrupted the flow of the presentation with worldwide classrooms anecdotes, he identified with the audience and demanded complete attention, which he received. He then illustrated each point; again calling teachers and students to the stage and having them dance or answer questions, putting them on the spot.
Synonyms were attacked after lunch The students were introduced to illegal words, such as many, mad, sad or bad, a lot, very, good, very hard, big and really illegal words such as can’t, stupid, dumb, dummy, ugly, yo’Momma and fool. They were told not to use them and shown how to replace them with cooler words: synonyms.
Comparing writing to cooking, he invited a large group of boys and girls to the stage. He entered them in a contest of enumerating what ingredients to use to produce tasty food. Going from one student to the other, he asked the questions and sent them back to their seat if the response was not fast enough.
The last exercise was to remember ten ingredients that produced great writing. A two-girl team from Agape Christian School and one student from Forest Heights Academy memorized the complete list.
A workshop for the teachers was offered the following day.