Culturally Relevant Pedagogy by T.C Howard

Culturally relevant pedagogy: T.C. Howard

The united states are currently enduring its largest influx of immigrants. Majority of these families have kids who compromise 1/3rd of the U.S school population. By 2050 this will rise to a whopping 57%, those kids being of African American, Asian American and Latino descent.

For teacher this will propose to be a challenge, as they will have to face the reality that students have cultural, ethnic, linguistic, racial and social class backgrounds that differ from their own. This will lead to a mix between a homogeneous teaching population ( white female, middle class) and an increasing heterogeneous ( students of color, low income ) population. Thus, teachers will have to “ reconceptualize the manner in which new teachers are prepared and provide them with skills and knowledge that will be best suited for effectively educating the diverse student population.” (Howard 195)

Race, ethnicity and culture need to be taken into consideration when understanding the learning experience. Teachers therefore need to shape their techniques around pedagogical practices that have relevance and are relatable to their social and cultural realties; critical teacher reflection and creating relevant teaching practices that in turn benefit the student

2 central ideas examine the relevance between the two subjects, the first being why race and culture are important concepts in teaching and learning.

“the color line continues to ring true even louder in the 21st century. A study of school achievement along racial lines underscores clear racial divisions about who is benefiting  from school and who is not.” (Howard 197) African American and Latino students continue to be the largest ethnic minority, however the academic underachievement of these students have been bad for decades (Howard 197)

The dropout rate for the two diverse groups has reached near 30% over the past 3 decades and has shown no sign of improvement , socially and emotionally these students have struggled to adjust to the school system

Throughout the years the group was composed of 28% of the nation’s public-school enrollment but have represented 50% of all students labelled mentally retarded, 40% as developmentally delayed, 37% as emotionally disturbed. Furthermore, these students are labeled as in need for rehabilitation and remedial education services, as the years pass by this number only just keeps increasing indefinitely.

This has led to the question, what if race and culture have to do with the widespread underachievement of nonmainstream students? Thus, the need to rethink pedagogical practices is critical if underachieving student populations are to have improved chances for school success.

Teachers need to realize that racially diverse students frequently bring cultural capital to the classroom that is different from most societal and cultural norms. Norms play a huge role on shaping learning, understanding and developing behavior. To reshape the means of how an educator can teach to the student will make the learning experience more meaningful.

The next important concept to grasp is critical reflection.  Reflection is a special form of problem solving, critical reflection therefore attempts to look at moral, political and ethical contexts of teaching. Reflective action can be a more useful tool for addressing social and emotional issues, namely those pertaining to race and culture. If students are treated competently they will ultimately demonstrate high degrees of competence, this paired with understanding ones standpoint and perspective will shape a student’s thinking and learning. This alone will raise a sense of mindfulness between the two parties.

This process, if executed properly will improve practice, help reform philosophies and will increase both efficiency and effectiveness between teacher and student, thus making learning more meaningful.  Being mindful of an individual’s circumstance will facilitate a positive growth, and be beneficial for teachers too, this will help them better understand the culture that encompasses their norm, and will be a driving factor in reshaping the foundations of education to fit the 21st century.

Mahen Kariyakarawana


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