The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children. By: Gloria Ladson Billings. Objectives. Understand culturally-relevant pedagogy in theory and in practice. Learn the tenants of Gloria Ladson Billing’s philosophy of culturally-relevant pedagogy.
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The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
By: Gloria Ladson Billings
On cultural relevancy:
Uses student culture in order to maintain it and to transcend the negative effects of the dominant culture (the ignoring of black culture by the mainstream);
The aim is to assist in the development of a culturally relevant “personality” that allows black students to choose academic excellence yet still identify with black culture;
It is a pedagogy that empowers students by using cultural referents to impart knowledge; it moves between two cultures but recognizes each as legitimate (17-18);
It is the antithesis of assimilation; it aims at a level of excellence; emphasizes sharing responsibility (23) – a successful culturally relevant teacher is viewed as a “coach”
On cultural relevancy:
One willing to work with others and will collectively work toward a collective goal (24);
Establishes strong and caring relationships with all students
When looking at current teachers, Billings notices that teacher perceptions of black students have a significant impact on student learning.
Such perceptions can lead to negative associations with black culture and low expectations; teachers may only value students that demonstrate mainstream behavior;
They may be attempting to “correct” this behavior in order to make students “fit” into a particular category;
Or teachers may not believe that minority students can act in a certain way, thus react with sympathy.
Seeing Color, Seeing Culture
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” -Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963
“…the journey toward acknowledging and valuing differences. "
"I don't really see color”
“I just see children" or "I don't care if they're red, green, or polka dot, I just treat them all like children."
…these attempts at colorblindness mask a "dysconscious racism," an "uncritical habit of mind that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting the existing order of things as given.” This is not to suggest that these teachers are racist in the conventional sense.
They do not consciously deprive or punish African American children on the basis of their race, but at the same time they are not unconscious of the ways in which some children are privileged and others are disadvantaged in the classroom.
Conceptions of Self and Others
Conceptions of Knowledge
According to Ladson Billings, Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) is:
“An approach that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impact knowledge, skills and attitudes.”