Culturally Responsive Teaching Reflection – Part I

Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning. Culture is central to learning. It plays a role not only in communicating and receiving information, but also in shaping the thinking process of groups and individuals. A pedagogy that acknowledges, responds to, and celebrates fundamental cultures offers full, equitable access to education for students from all cultures (Ladson-Billings, 1994).

1. What are some of the characteristics of culturally responsive teaching?
Authenticity. Resources. Place-based.
I enjoyed Paula Savikko’s examination of her place-based science classes because of her ability to find ways to connect her students both to one another and also to the area in which they live. Paula built a community of students by building her lessons on a shared topic; in this case the place they live in, Juneau. Also, by tying her lesson to a community issue (health of Lemon Creek) and having the students present their findings to a public audience, students may feel more connected to the topic and find more value/purpose in their education. I definitely remember being in certain science classes while growing up and thinking but how does this apply to my life.

I also really appreciated what the Tlingit Elder Paul Marks had to say in regards to embracing our cultures by respecting the resources around us. Paul Marks spoke about how it is the Tlingit way to respect the natural resources for what they have provided for us, because there is a spiritual aspect to all things, and because of this, they (the resources) will also remember how humans have treated them. Paul Marks then tied this to Western science, and how scientists have relatively recently come to understand the value of trees and how it provides oxygen and life for human beings. I think this connection between the two cultures allows students to come to an appreciation of a culture not of their own by means of reflecting on their similarities. If CRTs “[shape] the thinking process of groups and individuals,” perhaps Paul Marks’ teaching was one way to transform students from anthropocentric attitudes to more nature-appreciative ones.

2. What are some ways that these CRT strategies can be extrapolated to social studies, music, English, or other content areas?
Extension to other content areas. Using community resources.
I feel that the CRT strategies can easily be facilitated through social studies classes because it “acknowledges, respond to, and celebrates fundamental cultures,” and gives the traditionally facilitated study of cultures (dominant looking at marginalized cultures) more depth, more perspectives, and more authenticity. As social studies teachers educating students about the various cultures and systems that shape the diversity of the world, I think it is crucial to have students also examine the risk that comes with it…cultural appropriation and exoticism, objectification, complacency in personal biases, and even propaganda to an extent. I want students to be able to seek the truth and in every lesson be able to challenge themselves to ask the significance of the topic, the reason it is being studied, and how it relates to their own lives.

*Update 6/30/16: (Part II Addition Link)
Additions include personal reflections on Scott’s Lecture, Alberta’s Lecture (as presented by Angie), and Ernestine’s Reading. I feel that the best way to capture the significance of these lessons for me, is to recall a relevant experience from my own life.


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1 thought on “Culturally Responsive Teaching Reflection – Part I”

  1. Chris. I missed the Paul Marks remarks (our group was at the museum) but I have heard him talk about similar issues in the past. I think he has a great point of view when relating to respecting the Earth and the food that we eat. I think students, are often displaced from the things that they learn and how it applies to them in everyday life.
    I agree with you in that it should be a priority to have students seek the truth and to know how it relates to their own lives. I think this is important and without that link, students might not connect with what the point class lesson is.

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