Monday, January 20, 2014

Learning: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

I'm preparing for a after school workshop on Culturally Relevant Teaching.  While doing some research on the topic I ran across this article from 2011:

This article provided some amazing insights and began a foundation of understanding what it means to be "Culturally Relevant."

See below for some of my take aways, questions and musings.  Please add other resources, books, comments, ideas to the comments.


"Scholars have pondered over strategies to assist teachers in teaching about diversity as well as interacting with diversity found within their classrooms in order to ameliorate the effects of cultural discontinuity."

Cultural discontinuity = difference in culture between the white middle class teacher and classroom that isn't reflective of that.  (vice versa can also be true for an African American teacher in a classroom of students that are not reflective of that culture.)

"The problem embracing the American educational system is how to ensure that all students, especially racal/ethnic minority students, achieve.

"Theories and research which argue that students, especially those from status-oppressed minority groups, are sensitive to their treatment in school by teachers, administrators, and peers will look for answers in these social relationships"

How do we move from theories and research to solutions?

"Viable teaching and learning environments are:

  • culturally appropriate
  • culturally congruent
  • mitigating cultural discontinuity
  • culturally responsive
  • culturally compatible"

How is a student's home reflected in my classroom?

"Just as the student body is not homogeneous, teachers may come from a culture quite different from that of their students, resulting in cultural clashes that can potentially lead to gaps in learning."

What are the cultural gaps that exist between you are your students?

"For viable teaching and learning to take place, there must be connections between the home-community and school culture."

"...intentional inclusion of students' backgrounds becomes a direct demonstration of the distinction between difference and deficiency."

How do we recognize difference and/or/vs deficiency?

How does your school mirror the community?

Historical Evolution of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

"Bringing the relevance of the text to the child's own experience helps the child make sense of the world"

"This illustrated the importance of teacher as a bridge between home-community and school culture."
"...teachers need to recognize differences in interactional style (preference or learning style and demonstrating what was learned) as well as differences in cognitive style (cognitive information processing).  They stressed that the teacher should be actively involved in ascertaining the learning styles of his or her students."

When students and teachers are from the same culture, evidence shows there is more learning.

"cultural incompatibility is one explanation for school failure."

Significance of Critical Race Theory

"...acknowledgement of who children are, how they perceive themselves, and how the world receives them."

"...racism persists in being"endemic and deeply ingrained in American life"" Ladson-Billings and Tate 1995

"Critical Race Theory tenets:

  1. Racialized power
  2. the permanence or centrality of race
  3. counter storytelling as a legitimate critique of the master narrative
  4. interest convergence
  5. critique of liberalism"

"...reviewing the ways that, for instance, curriculum is designed, the delivery of instruction is executed, classes are composed and grouped, assessment is determined and processed, school funding is allocated, and redistricting lines are drawn."

How do you get to know, I mean know, your students, their families and their culture?

Conceptual Framework of Cultural Relevant Pedagogy

5 themes:

  1. Identity and Achievement
  2. Equity and Excellence
  3. Developmental Appropriateness
  4. Teaching the Whole Child
  5. Student-Teacher Relationships

Figure 1:

Identity and Achievement

"...both student and teacher identities are considered."
"...identity is defined as a cultural construct."

"parts of our identity that do capture our attention are those that other people notice, and reflect back to us."

"Teachers should realize that students who are racial or ethnic minorities see, view, and perceive themselves and others differently than those who are of the majority group."

"race is not to be ignored in the picture of identity development."

"Teachers need to be aware of their own identities."

"...individually and collectively students voices are heard, they matter, and their presence and contributions are valued."

Teachers CANNOT be colorblind or race neutral because each "ignore the centrality of race and racism within American society."

"When teachers acknowledge that the system is racist, they can move forward to not only avoid socially reproducing the racism, but also to rethink the system, recognize their actions in it, change them if they need to be, and embrace all cultures as equally important."

"by embracing the reality of diversity through such an identification is critical in creating an environment for equitable learning."

Equity and Excellence

"...equity involved giving students what they need."

"Giving students what they need means believing:

  • Difference is good.
  • Differentiated instruction is essential for some
  • Culturally relevant pedagogy practices can enhance learning."

"when teachers do not see diversity, they truly do not see students at all and therefore greatly limit their abilities to meet students' diverse educational and social needs."

How do we incorporate more multicultural content?

How do we provide windows and mirrors into our content that allow our students to see themselves in their curriculum?

Developmental Appropriateness

"...acknowledge the importance of knowing where children are in their cognitive development."

"The key is generating teaching styles that incorporate the vast difference in culturally-based learning styles and learning preferences of students."

How do we do we generating teaching styles that incorporate the vast difference in culturally-based learning styles and learning preferences of students?
What does it look like when teachers generate teaching styles that incorporate the vast difference in culturally-based learning styles and learning preferences of students?

Teaching the Whole Child

"These cultural influences affect how students and their families perceive, receive, respond to, categorize, and prioritize what is meaningful to them."

"Culture resides in the individual."

" is crucial for teachers to learn about all of their students, especially those who are culturally different from the teachers themselves."

How can we filter the content required by teachers to 'cover' to leave time for teachers to get to KNOW their students?

Student-Teacher Relationships

"the nature and the extent of the relationships between the teachers and their students are crucial in promoting student learning."

"...teachers' knowledge and translation of different cultural communications styles can avert misinterpretations of behavior, demonstrations of disrespect, and conflicts in schools."

Student-teacher relationships are "fluid and equitable and extend beyond the classroom."

Teachers should "demonstrate a connectedness with all their students and encourage that same connectedness between the students."

Teachers should believe that "community is a vital partner in students' learning."

Teachers should "simply not accept failure, but begin where students are and works hard to help them succeed."

"...through counter stories, teachers are provided a vehicle by which they can see what has, in some cases, been consciously invisible to them before."

How do we as teachers INVEST in our students and our students families?  Only through that investment will true learning be achieved.

That's it for now, add more resources in the comments section....

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