Culturally relevant or responsive teaching is a pedagogy grounded in teachers’ displaying cultural competence: skill at teaching in a cross-cultural or multicultural setting. While the term culturally relevant teaching often deals specifically with instruction of Theoretical foundations of teaching children American students in the United States, it has been proven to be an effective form of pedagogy for students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Culturally relevant teaching was made popular by Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings in the early 1990s, the term she created was defined as one “that empowers students to maintain cultural integrity, while succeeding academically. Many of these researchers and educators support the constructivist theories of education because such perspectives recognize the value of multiple cultural viewpoints. James Scheurich believes that culturally relevant pedagogy has a significant importance on our youth because it benefits students no matter what the ethnic background or culture of the students. In a video James Scheurich explains how the success of our country is in the hand of our children and in a society where students of color will no longer be the minority, he expresses how teachers must teach to their audience in order for students to be successful. In multicultural cities like Toronto, Ontario CRP is currently being used in arts-education alongside other pedagogies, including Purpose Driven Education, that encourage authenticity, reclaiming personal power, and self-love through exploration of one’s own familial and ethnic history. A number of authors, including Gay and Lipman have identified characteristics of culturally relevant teaching.
Comprehensive: Culturally relevant teaching is comprehensive because it uses “cultural resources to teach knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes. Multidimensional: Culturally relevant teaching encompasses many areas and applies multicultural theory to the classroom environment, teaching methods, and evaluation. Liberating: Culturally relevant teachers liberate students. Empowering: Culturally relevant teaching empower students, giving them opportunities to excel in the classroom and beyond.
Empowerment translates into academic competence, personal confidence, courage, and the will to act. Transformative: Culturally relevant teaching is transformative because educators and their students must often defy educational traditions and the status quo. Teachers who are comfortable with themselves and teach within their identity and integrity are able to make student connections and bring subjects alive. Equity and Excellence: Within this principle the following concepts are addressed: “dispositions, incorporation of multicultural curriculum content, equal access, and high expectations. The integration of excellence and equity in CRP is predicated upon establishing a curriculum that is inclusive of students cultural experiences, and setting high expectations for the students to reach.
Developmental Appropriateness: Several concepts collectively define Developmental Appropriateness within the context of CRP. Teaching the Whole Child: Similar to ‘Developmental Appropriateness’, ‘Teaching the Whole Child’ is a theme that includes the concepts of “skill development in a cultural context, home-school-community collaboration, learning outcomes, supportive learning community and empowerment. Student Teacher Relationships: The theme of Student-Teacher Relationship within the context of CRP aligns itself closely with the concepts of “caring, relationships, interaction, and classroom atmosphere. Educators must combine the willingness to bond with their students with the desire to grow that relationship into one vested in personal care and professional vigilance.