What is Culturally Responsive Teaching?

what-is-culturally-responsive-teachingCulturally responsive teaching is an educational theory that emphasizes the critical role that culture plays in the learning process. Below introduces this important and innovative pedagogical theory that is changing classroom curriculums and teaching styles.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Overview

Culturally responsive instruction requires that teachers consider individual cultural differences when imparting knowledge and designing content. Culturally responsive instruction involves concepts such as gender, ethnicity, religion and social class to create dynamic learning environments that improve learning and motivation. Student engagement and motivation levels are directly linked to cultural values and behaviors. Certain cultural beliefs promote persistence, while others invoke a sense of enjoyment for certain tasks. Every culture has their unique conception and interpretation of things like academic progress, failure and success. Educators that invest time and energy into understanding cultural nuances will enjoy productive relationships with their students.

The Science behind Culturally Responsive Instruction

Many educators mistakenly presume that culturally responsive instruction is just about embracing diversity and using ethnic pride to motivate students. There is actual science behind culturally responsive instruction that shows that cognitive functioning, such as memory systems and information processing structures, are intimately influenced by conditioned and collective cultural behaviors.

Many cultures have strong oral traditions, such as Latino, African American and Southeast Asian communities. Some of these cultural groups use traditional memory strategies, such as music or dance, to convert useful knowledge into memory.

Many teachers make the mistake of teaching students according to their own preferences. A teacher may therefore logically present key concepts and expect students to memorize them by repetition and testing because this works for them.

Fundamental Characteristics

Culturally responsive education is centered on certain fundamental concepts. First, teachers strive to engage and learn about cultures through positive interactions with family and community members. Teachers must communicate with parents in order to understand their cultural expectations and educational preferences. Second, teachers must be sensitive about how they communicate academic expectations and performances. Certain cultures and ethnic groups may be stereotyped with either low or high performances of certain tasks or subjects. Third, curriculum should be reshaped to incorporate culturally appropriate strategies and viewpoints. Fourth, culturally responsive learning integrates well with student-centered instruction.

Culturally Responsive Strategies

Gamification is a software development concept that is becoming more popular with educators. Games are a powerful teaching strategy because they universally engage students from all backgrounds. Games drastically increase attention and motivation, which results in active cognitive processing and memory recall.

Social learning works well with students who are from cultures that encourage group harmony and teamwork. Communal activities increase participation, cooperation and group cohesion, which certain culture prioritizes over individual learning needs or preferences. The human brain is also programmed to remember information through story structures and presentation. Transforming curriculum through coherent narrative will increase understanding and memorization.

America’s changing ethnic and cultural demographics have resulted in the need for teachers to use culturally responsive teaching techniques to improve academic outcomes and classroom management.