Learning Experience #2

In this week’s Learning Experience we  had the reading: “But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy” by Gloria Ladson-Billings. In chapter 21, Ladson-Billings specifically focuses around a pedagogy that the author identifies as “culturally relevant”, and argues its centrality in the academic success of African American and other children who have not been well served by US public schools. Ladson-Billings also talks about culturally relevant teaching which is “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes.” What this means is that teachers build a bridge between students’ home and school life. Culturally relevant teaching utilizes the backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences of the students to inform the teacher’s lessons and methodology. The reading also talks about why we see so little of these “good teaching” methods being used in schools. The reasoning for this being is that students must experience academic success, they must develop and/or maintain cultural competence, and students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of current social order. 

When Ladson-Billings talks about academic success, she means that students must learn in the subject that they are being taught. And challenging students’ minds to improve their ability to think critically. And that the teacher is also reaching for understanding. And when she brought up cultural competence what she meant is that teachers are able to identify culture change, develop knowledge and an understanding in at least one other culture. That students can be biculturally/multiculturally competent and that teachers are embracing each scholar’s language. 

Anya Kamenetz’s perspective was also brought up and she said “Having just one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade reduced low-income black boys’ probability of dropping out of high school by 39 percent, the study found. And by high school, African-American students, both boys and girls, who had one African-American teacher had much stronger expectations of going to college “ (Kamenetz, 2017). This statement I agree with because I think that it is important for African-American students to be able to see themselves in leadership positions through people that look like them. Some of the things that we need to do as future educators is to reconsider what “good teaching”  means and along with that we also need to look for good teaching in unsuccessful districts, and challenge those who believe culturally relevant teaching styles cannot be made available to all students. 

I find this topic really important because it is important that students can be able to see themselves in what they are learning and are able to connect to the lesson. Some of the reasons why I think this is important is because when students see themselves in the lesson they become more interested and engaged in the learning. Along with that they will want to participate and share more. It also makes them want to share their culture with their classmates about who they are culturally and where their family comes from. 

When I was going through school this is something that I did not get this type of education integrated when I was going through any of my years of education. I feel like it would have been more beneficial, if it was. I would have loved to have a lesson that was around the Caribbean or be able to incorporate it into the lesson plan somehow. I know that I would have been more engaged and willing to share because it was something that I have a personal connection with and know about. So I would have been more confident to speak up in the classroom. And most importantly I would have been excited to learn and look forward to the next day, because I would have not been lost in the material and I could have made connections.

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