- Culturally responsive teaching can help transform dependent learners into independent ones by making learning more reflective and relevant to students’ lives, and therefore more constructive, U.S. history teacher Jeffrey Hinton writes for Edutopia.
- Educators can begin by adopting culturally responsive inquiry learning, which is student-centered, requiring classes to engage and drive their own discovery. They can work in teams, crafting critical questions that look into issues from inequality to injustice, which simultaneously raises their own social awareness while strengthening critical thinking skills.
- The use of primary sources is a critical component of this process, where students are encouraged to find multiple viewpoints, particularly those from underrepresented groups, as they research and search for answers to questions they themselves have asked.
Culturally responsive approaches within a curriculum help to support students not just while they’re in classrooms, but when they move into the adult world. This approach can help strengthen students’ identity and support critical thinking, notes Northeastern University. Critical thinking, in particular, is crucial to students being able to succeed in a workplace where negotiating differing points of view and opinions happens daily.
This approach can be started in the early grades by encouraging students to share about their own backgrounds. Educators should also ensure pupils are reflected in the books, posters and other media they see, read and watch while in school, as well. Educators, too, will want to consider addressing their own biases and ideally dismantle them, so they can hear and interrupt any coming from their own students in the classroom.
Some districts are already making the move to create more equity within their curriculum, from adding classroom materials representing students and their backgrounds, to districts choosing to focus on their own local racial history. Educators believe these steps will not only bolster student engagement and learning, but will help to develop critical thinking skills they can take with them long after they’ve left school.