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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

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The dreamkeepers successful teachers of african american children l.jpg

The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children

By: Gloria Ladson Billings


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Objectives

  • Understand culturally-relevant pedagogy in theory and in practice.

  • Learn the tenants of Gloria Ladson Billing’s philosophy of culturally-relevant pedagogy.

  • Examine examples of how teaching through the lens of culturally-relevant pedagogy influences lessons, curriculum, and teaching.


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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”


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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.


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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. "


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"dysconsciousness“

"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.


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Conceptions of Self and Others

  • Culturally Relevant

  • ·  Teacher sees herself as an artist. Teaching as an art.

  • ·  Teacher sees herself as part of the community and teaching as giving something back to the community.

  • ·  Encourages students to do the same.

  • ·  Teacher believes all students can succeed.

  • ·  Teacher helps students make connections between their community national, and global identities.

  • ·  Teacher sees teaching as "pulling knowledge out"-like "mining."

  • Assimilationist

  • ·  Teacher sees herself as technician teaching as a technical task.

  • ·  Teacher sees herself as an individual who may or may not be a part of the community; she encourages achievement as a means to escape community.

  • ·  Teacher believes failure is inevitable for some.

  • ·  Teacher homogenizes students into one "American" identity.

  • Teacher sees teaching as "putting knowledge into" -like "banking."


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Social Relations

  • Culturally Relevant

  • Teacher-Student relationship is fluid, humanely equitable, extends to interactions beyond the classroom and into the community.

  • Teacher demonstrates a connectedness with students.

  • Teacher encourages a "community of learners."

  • Teacher encourages students to learn collaboratively. Students are expected to teach and help others and be responsible for each other.

  • Assimilationist

  • Teacher-student relationship is fixed tends to be hieryarchica1 and limited (to formal classroom roles).

  • Teacher demonstrates connections with individual students.

  • Teacher encourages competitive achievement.

  • Teacher encourages students to learn individually, in isolation.


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Conceptions of Knowledge

  • Culturally Relevant

  • Knowledge is continuously recreated, recycling and shared by teachers and students; it is not static or unchanging.

  • Knowledge is viewed critically.

  • Teacher is passionate about content.

  • Teacher helps students develop necessary skills.

  • Teacher sees excellence as a complex standard mat may involve some postulates but takes student diversity and individual differences into account.

  • Assimilationist

  • Knowledge is Static and is passed in one direction, from teacher to students.

  • Knowledge is viewed as infallible.

  • Teacher is detached, neutral about content.

  • Teacher expects students to demonstrate prerequisite skills.

  • Teacher sees excellence as a postulate that exists independently from student diversity and individual differences.


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  • In The Dreamkeepers, Ladson-Billings defines CRT as possessing these eight principles:

  • Communication of High Expectations

  • Active Teaching Methods

  • Teacher as Facilitator

  • Inclusion of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

  • Cultural Sensitivity

  • Reshaping the Curriculum

  • Student-Controlled Classroom Discourse

  • Small Group Instruction and Academically-Related Discourse


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Teachers Who Practice Culturally-Relevant Teaching:

  • View teaching as a “art,” not a “technical skill.”

  • View themselves as a part of the community in which they teach.

  • View themselves as giving back to this community.

  • See a “connectedness” between themselves and their students.

  • Foster a “community of learners.”

  • “…believe that knowledge is continuously re-created, recycled, and shared by teachers and students alike.”


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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.”


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Objectives

  • Understand culturally-relevant pedagogy in theory and in practice.

  • Learn the tenants of Gloria Ladson Billing’s philosophy of culturally-relevant pedagogy.

  • Examine examples of how teaching through the lens of culturally-relevant pedagogy influences lessons, curriculum, and teaching.


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