Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Assessing Culturally Responsible Pedagogy in Student Work: Reflections, Rubrics, and Writing

Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Assessing Culturally Responsible Pedagogy in Student Work: Reflections, Rubrics, and Writing

Article excerpt

A Global Worldview in the Teaching-Learning Process

In 1756, Hector St. John de Crevecoeur wrote that in the American colonies individuals were being melted into a new race (see Huber, 2002, p. 1). The meltdown never occurred--and now more a mosaic than a melting pot--issues of cultural diversity and color permeate educational and social considerations in the U.S.A.

In their most recent addition of Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society Donna M. Gollnick and Philip C. Chinn (2004) document the nation's classroom diversity:

   Demographic data on birthrates and immigration indicate that there
   will be more Asian American, Latino (but not Cuban American), and
   African American children, but fewer children who are European
   American. Students of color comprise more than one-third of the
   school population today. However, the race and sex of their teachers
   match neither the student population nor the general population;
   86.5% of the teachers are white and 75% are female. By 2020 students
   of color will represent nearly half of the elementary and secondary

      It is not only ethnic and racial diversity that is challenging
   schools.... while small groups of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and
   Sikhs have been in the country for many decades, only recently have
   they and their religions become highly visible.... The United States
   has not only become a multicultural nation, but has also become a
   multireligious society. (pp. 4-5)

The continual approximation of culturally responsible pedagogy requires deeper levels of reflection and more culturally sensitive awareness and language usage regarding the multicultural multireligious diversity of our students' world. Pre-service and in-service pedagogists need to transfer knowledge bases about social justice and global interdependence into actions, inclusive of language, behaviors, and practices. But, how do educators plan and assess curriculum and instruction to support student learning, equity, social justice, and a global worldview in the teaching~learning process?

This article explores strategies for critically analyzing home and school cultures, teacher and student cultures, and the elements of culture that inform such analyses. Evolved from critical multicultural education (McLaren, 2002) and framed on the "Knowledge Bases for Diversity in Teacher Education" (Smith, 1991, 1998, 2000-2001), these strategies require the participant to dig beneath surface veneers and challenge traditional explanations regarding the curriculum, instruction, and teaching~learning process. As Peter McLaren (1998) explained:

   Why is a critical pedagogy so necessary? Part of the answer is that
   mainstream pedagogies generally avoid or attempt to obscure the
   question that should be central to education: What is the
   relationship between what we do in the classroom and our effort to
   build a better society. (p. xiv)

A characteristic of multicultural, social reconstructionist, reflective teaching is the teacher's focus both inwardly on his or her own practices and beliefs as well as outwardly on the social conditions in which these practices are situated (see Kemmis, 1985; Tabachnik & Zeichner, 1991). Both individual (self), as well as institutional (other) issues are thereby reviewed.

   Those who advocate a social reconstructionist view [of reflective
   teaching] certainly acknowledge the importance of subject matter,
   student understanding, research-based teaching techniques, and an
   emphasis on the students' interests, thinking and development.
   Teachers who practice a multicultural, social reconstructionist
   version of reflective teaching view the substance of other versions
   through the lens of the larger society. Such teachers realize that
   without solid subject matter taught using appropriate effective
   instructional techniques, as well as curricula based on the needs,
   interests, talents, and learning styles of the children, students
   will not attain the knowledge base and skills necessary to become
   active participating members of society. … 
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