Culturally Responsible Pedagogy in the (Nearly) Homogeneous Classroom: A Case Study
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The purpose of this research was to perform an in-depth examination of a teacher who was identified as teaching in a culturally responsible manner. With this purpose in mind, two research questions guide this study: (1) What is the teacher’s understanding of education that is culturally responsible?; and (2) What are the teacher’s present practices with respect to development of a culturally responsible classroom? I utilized the definition of culturally responsible teaching, that most closely resembles my understanding, offered by Baruth and Manning (1995), that teachers must teach learners to recognize, accept, and respect all differences - including cultural, ethnic, social class, religious, and gender differences - and learners should develop a sense of responsibility and a commitment to work towards democratic ideals of justice, equality and democracy. Guidelines of the study question whether teachers in homogeneous White classrooms are making an effort to extend the given curriculum to include cultural examples or references that reflect not only the composition of the classroom but also the diversity of the wider world outside the classroom. I sought to answer these questions through the use of standard open-ended interviews and informal conversational interviews, educational materials analysis, and participant observation in the classroom. From analysis of collected data, I found that both the teacher’s understanding of culturally responsible education and her practices of demonstrating that understanding are integrated, creating a composite example of a culturally responsible teacher. I also found that the categories and subcategories of these data sets shared the major themes of respect and relationships. I submit that the concepts of having respect for all and the fostering of relationships are the undercurrents of a culturally responsible teacher. Perhaps culturally responsible teaching is not how many internationally-authored books are on the classroom shelves or how often the teacher presents a unit on cultural diversity; but rather it is a basic level of respect in all relationships, starting with one’s fellow students, and a teacher who molds a child into becoming a respectful, accepting, socially-just adult that is the core of culturally responsible pedagogy.