Part 5: The problem is cultural PLUS extra articles posted in readings
Dealing with whiteness to empower students to fight for common good
Listening to students: Stories from the Education Effect
Living with the tensions of hope and despair
The dark & the dazzling: Children leading us back from the edge
Voices of those we cage – and a different kind of witness
Let the human spirit in the room
Discuss the following:
1. Describe one takeaway from each article.
2. Which reading was most interesting to you.
3. Why did you find this reading interesting? How did it relate to you and your own story? (In this section I expect to see something about YOU, something about your background or your culture that relates to one of these readings.
Harvard Educational Review Vol. 84 No. 1 Spring 2014
Copyright © by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy 2.0:
a.k.a. the Remix
GLOR I A L A DSON-BILLINGS
University of Wisconsin–Madison
In this article, Ladson-Billings reflects on the histor y of her theor y of culturally rel-
evant pedagogy and the ways it has been used and misused since its inception. She
argues for the importance of dynamic scholarship and suggests that it is time for a
“remix” of her original theor y: culturally sustaining pedagogy, as proposed by Paris
(2012). Ladson-Billings discusses her work with the hip-hop and spoken word pro-
gram First Wave as an example of how culturally sustaining pedagogy allows for
a fluid understanding of culture, and a teaching practice that explicitly engages
questions of equity and justice. Influenced by her experience with the First Wave pro-
gram, Ladson-Billings welcomes the burgeoning literature on culturally sustaining
pedagogy as a way to push forward her original goals of engaging critically in the
cultural landscapes of classrooms and teacher education programs.
Almost twenty-five years ago, I attempted to make a pedagogical change
(Ladson-Billings, 1990). Instead of asking what was wrong with African Ameri-
can learners, I dared to ask what was right with these students and what hap-
pened in the classrooms of teachers who seemed to experience pedagogical
success with them. Pursuit of this question has helped define much of my
scholarly career. My work in this area resulted in the development of what I
termed culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995). When I began this
inquiry, I was primarily concerned with practical ways to improve teacher edu-
cation in order to produce new generations of teachers who would bring an
appreciation of their students’ assets to their work in urban classrooms popu-
lated with African American students. Through this study, I came to focus on
eight teachers who I found to be thoughtful, inspiring, demanding, critical;
they were connected to the students, their families, their communities, and
their daily lives (Ladson-Billings, 1994). The way these teachers thought and
spoke about their practice allowed me to discover the underlying structure of
their work and describe it in ways that became useful for other teachers in a
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy 2.0
variety of settings. I identified three major domains of their work: academic
success, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness. Briefly, by aca-
demic success I refer to the intellectual growth that students experience as a
result of classroom instruction and learning experiences. Cultural competence
refers to the ability to help students appreciate and celebrate their cultures of
origin while gaining knowledge of and fluency in at least one other culture.
Sociopolitical consciousness is the ability to take learning beyond th
The problem is cultural
I still believe the problem is cultural, but it is larger than the children or their teachers •.. the cultural framework of our country has, almost since its inception, dictated
that “black” is bad and less than and in all arenas”white” is good and supe rior. This perspective is so ingrained and so normalized that weall stumble through our days with eyes closed to avoid seeing it. We miss the pain in our children’s eyes when they have internalized
the societal belief that they are dumb, unmotivated, and dispensable.
-Lisa Delpit,Multiplication is for white people: Raising the expectations
for other people’s children
The collective strugg le presupposes collective responsibility … Yes, every body will have to be compromised in the fight for common good … there are no innocents and no onlooke rs. ,Ve a ll have d irty hands; we a re all soiling them in the swamps of our country and in the terrifying emptiness of our brains. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor (Fanon, I 968, p. 199 ).
)a m an upp er-middl e-class, college-ed uca ted white woma n. I say that first because it is a vita lly impo rtant signifie r when discussing issues regarding rac e, class, and gender. It is importan t beca use it frames my en tire reality.
It is important because it requires a consta nt, tireless vigilance, to check, and recheck my privilege, my perspective, and my input on issues that do not affect me dir ect ly. It is vital to make sure that I am not engaging in the very oppr essio n I am trying to oppose. I am an upper-middle-class, college -ed u ca ted white woman, and I am doing the best that I can to combat, as an ed u ca tor, what critica l ed uca tional schola1 Joan Wynne (2012), id enti fies as the “isms,” of sexism, racism, and classism, through a tireless advocacy for an “a nti-oppressive” education (Shim, 2012).
If I ever encounter a person of my ethnicity claiming to be completely void of racism, I am immediately suspicio us of them because I believe it is not possible. I t is not possible because the entire premise of our U.S. history is constructed around the ideas of white male privilege, imperialism, and a ” pern ic ious” white hegemonic dominance that is pe rvasive in every corn er of our existence, particularly in that of education (Castagno 2013). It is not possible, because as a white person, I am bombarded with both active and passive racist messages, suggestions, and acculturation from the moment I am born. I am surrounded by encryptions of racism in day-to-day life that encourage me to keep in place in st itutiona l st ructures that, every day, lim it peo ple of color’s upward mobility and civic participation in a social environme nt. J en na Shim. in her article
” P ierre Bourdieu and intcrcultural edu catio n: It is n
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