Lack of Culturally Relevant Teaching Effects on African Americans

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“No challenge has been more daunting than that of improving the academic achievement of African American students” said Gloria Ladson-Billings (1994) in one of her most influential works on pedagogy titled, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children (p. 9). Her insight on what is now culturally relevant teaching has sparked a revolution in urban education’s form and curriculum, empowering students intellectually, socially, and politically. One African American sociologist who also fought for the civil rights and education of Black children was W.E.B. Du Bois, who, when describing his first experiences as an educator in the segregated schools of the South, observed that his students “found the world a puzzling thing: it asked little of them, and it answered with little, and yet it ridiculed their offering” (2008, p. 58). Du Bois’ students’ realization that little is expected of them and little is welcomed is a result of a lack of empowerment; it is a byproduct of the absence of culturally relevant teaching, which in the end is a damaging thing for children. The less that is expected of them, the less they will give, and yet they will still be ridiculed for what they do offer, and continue to give less, causing a constant trapping cycle. This brings out the importance of culturally relevant teaching and how the lack of empowerment which is gained through culturally relevant teaching will cause intellectual harm to diverse children and harm their outlook on life. One of the most detrimental effects on students of color who are educated through traditional means is that it doesn’t involve culturally relevant teaching that subconsciously forms an idea of accepted self-hatred, as Gregory Michie (2004) observes in See You When We Get There. Jokes about dark skin and changing their natural hair color and eye color were common among a group of

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