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Monday, July 25, 2011

Utilizing Culturally Responsive Curriculum in the Classroom

Instead of the “color blind” approach to instruction where students’ race or ethnic background is overlooked in the interests of equality, it is wise for teachers to be “color aware” in designing their classroom climate and curriculum.  Although students are individuals, they are also products of their environments—no one grows up in a vacuum.  A multicultural society is best served by a culturally responsive curriculum.  Schools that acknowledge the diversity of their student population use this model as an effective tool for school unification, as well as to promote cultural understanding.
 As a result, a culturally responsive curriculum is both inclusive in that it ensures that all students are included within all aspects of the school and particularistic in that it acknowledges and respects the unique differences students may possess. A culturally responsive curriculum also encourages teachers’ understanding and recognition of each student’s non-school cultural life and background, and provides a means for them to incorporate this information into the curriculum, thus promoting inclusion.
Schools have the responsibility to teach all students how to synthesize cultural differences into their knowledge base, in order to facilitate students’ personal and professional success in a diverse world.  A culturally responsive curriculum helps students from a minority ethnic/racial background develop a sense of identity as individuals, as well as proudly identify with their particular cultural group.  Schools with a culturally responsive curriculum strive to develop a balanced understanding of history—a perspective that reflects both the positive and negative experiences of all of America’s ancestors.  It is also important for teachers of “mono-cultural” classrooms to integrate multicultural learning experiences into the curriculum. Multicultural learning experiences tend to build a tolerant, accepting and non-discriminatory classroom environment. It fosters empathy and appreciation for other cultures, and prevents prejudices built upon ignorance and lack of exposure.
According to education icon, Gloria Ladson-Billing, students in mono-cultural learning environments should also be exposed to the history and perspectives of diverse populations. Such learning experiences expands their understanding of individuals they will likely encounter in a diverse adult world.

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