What is Culturally Responsive Education?
“Culturally Responsive Education is a term to describe educational practices that promote all cultures, not just the dominant culture, by being mindful of the rules, values, and beliefs of various cultures, and the needs of all students within those cultures” (National Education Association and the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, 2022). At Pinecrest, we hope to share cultural awareness and knowledge through academic and social-emotional learning opportunities.
Some examples of what this looks like at Pinecrest:
- Teachers cultivate classroom libraries that have a variety of books, imagery, and resources that include and are written by diverse authors that share their stories.
- Teachers create an environment where questions and curiosity are encouraged in core subjects like social studies and science.
- Teachers and school leaders share age-appropriate tellings of history that are inclusive and honest.
- Families are welcome and encouraged to share their culture with the class by providing resources, bringing in special items or examples, and sometimes discussing with students on these important topics.
How is this important for our students:
There is so much value in providing students the opportunity to learn about different cultures and worldviews. Students can grow critical thinking skills as they research different cultural phenomena, build curiosity as students better understand other perspectives and experiences, and make connections as students realize meaningful ways to learn more about the world, their neighbors, and classmates.
Dr. Bishop (1990) coined the term “Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors” as a metaphor for how books can provide a peek into different experiences and as a reflection of our own life. This is the beauty of providing different course materials that share a variety of perspectives, experiences, cultures, and people. Depending on the individual, inclusive curriculum items can provide a window or door into a different culture or a mirror where students see a reflection of themselves within the media.
At Pinecrest, we frequently create opportunities for students to experience a “window or mirror” by diving into research and stories of different cultural groups and influential people. Pinecrest has monthly Cultural and Heritage Month sharings for our K-6 students, based on the Library of Congress’ History and Heritage Month calendar. Parents are able to participate via Zoom. This monthly focus allows students the chance to focus on contributors and celebrate their accomplishments. This representation can provide an opportunity to see themselves and imagine their future selves. Markus and Nurius (1986) have called these future-oriented selves our possible selves. This concept of possible selves in our students provides an opportunity for students to reflect on who they CAN become and would like to become.
Having an image of a possible self has been proven to create a positive emotional state and energize students. Even energizing and motivating them with school work! (Inglehart et al. 1988) Additionally, it has shown resilience in the face of failures, as students are able to recall their possible positive selves to get back on track. (Oyserman & Markus, 1990).
How many possible selves are being created within our classrooms?
- Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41, 954-969.
- Inglehart, M. R., Markus, H., & Brown, D. R. (1988, July). The effects of possible selves on academic achievement: A panel study.
- Oyserman, D., & Markus, H. (1990). Possible selves and delinquency. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 112- 125.
- Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom,6(3).
- National Education Association and the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (2022). The Very Foundation of Good Citizenship: The Legal and Pedagogical Case For Culturally Responsive and Racially Inclusive Public Education for All Students.