Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Branding Culturally Relevant Teaching: A Call for Remixes

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Branding Culturally Relevant Teaching: A Call for Remixes

Article excerpt

Cultural Relevancy as a Brand

Some time ago, I received an article to review for an online periodical. Without giving the full title of the article, it was dubbed "Culturally Relevant Leadership: What Does It Take?" I read the article twice looking for the "culturally relevant" aspects and then realized that they had been shrouded in a myriad of buzzwords like equity, cultural sensitivity, and inclusivity. I then realized that the article could have been entitled with any words, as long as culture and relevant appeared somewhere in the title. In other words, the name itself did not add significance because it was not tied to any specific type of cultural relevancy. It was not enough simply to state culturally relevant because the cultural relevance in the article was too generic. The "cultural relevance" did not stand out in any way. I was supposed to just see the words culturally and relevant and be content.

But to authentically and critically review the article for its cultural relevance, I needed the name to trigger a specific framing around the theoretical concept of relevancy. I wanted specific delineations that made this purported culturally relevant leadership unique from all the other culturally relevant leadership literature that I have read. I craved a brand or a type of culturally relevant teaching (CRT) that would be distinctive. That craving for a distinctive CRT in this article, which I did not end up reviewing after all, turned into a larger curiosity that then morphed into critical questions about CRT in teacher education, generally speaking. What brand of CRT have institutions invested in? What makes cultural relevancy in one program different from cultural relevancy in another program? What are the unique features that allow candidates to compare and contrast different approaches? How are the distinguishing characteristics of CRT tied to specific outcomes?

The aim of this article is to raise these questions and others, not so much for the goal of answering them as for the purpose of a collective, institutional reflection about them. Within that reflection is a call for a branding of cultural relevancy with the intent of creating or modifying variations of CRT, making each noteworthy. I will explore three essential questions:

1. What is the theoretical basis of a particular branding of CRT?

2. To what extent does the name used for CRT indicate a specific alignment to a brand?

3. How has the intentional use of a brand been tied to specific outcomes?

This reflection is presented in three parts. First is a discussion about what it means to vary CRT, based on the metaphor of a "remix" put forth by Gloria Ladson-Billings. She and other researchers have provided a historical context for "remixing," and these variations have changed the dynamic around CRT from outdated to different, from theory to action, and from generalities to the particular. Thus they provide the theoretical grounding necessary for any remix. Second a survey of the current landscape of culturally relevant branding in teacher education programs in California is explored. The survey of programs is not meant be evaluative or a study of any kind. Simply put, I wanted to see what was currently out there in terms of names being used for CRT and more importantly, the branding or remixing of those names with varying philosophies. Third, using the three essential questions as a guide, a current remix known as cultural and linguistic responsiveness (CLR) is shown. In very concrete terms, CLR puts a focus on anthropology, not race; on pedagogy, not content; and on grassroots empowerment, not top-down mandates (Hollie, 2015). A theoretical framework, definition, and description of CLR as a brand are provided. This brand has resonated in professional development offerings for thousands of K--12 educators and hundreds of school districts across the United States and Canada.

Historical Context

Remixing Cultural Relevancy

In the essay "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy 2. …

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