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Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT): Theory, Research & Strategies

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  • 0:01 Culture & Learning
  • 1:08 Culturally Responsive Teaching
  • 2:40 Characteristics
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

A person's culture can impact their approach to education and the way they learn. In this lesson, we'll examine culturally responsive teaching, a teaching method that takes into account students' cultures to help them succeed.

Culture & Learning

Jeanie is struggling. She's a new teacher, and she really wants all of her students to succeed. But she's not sure how to reach all of them. Take one of her students, Jonathan, who is from a different culture than Jeanie. He views the world differently and doesn't always approach thinking and problem solving the way Jeanie was taught.

Jeanie sometimes feels like a failure because she doesn't know how to get Jonathan motivated. It seems like he's very rarely motivated to learn, and that means that he often doesn't learn. She knows as a teacher that she should be doing more to motivate him, but he's so different from her that she doesn't know what to do!

Culture, or the ethnic or social group one is from, can have an impact on learning. For example, some studies have shown that African American students and European American students approach questions from the teacher differently. Because their respective cultures view questioning slightly differently, the students respond differently in the classroom.

Let's look closer at one way to approach the intersection of culture and learning: culturally responsive teaching, or CRT.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Jeanie's not sure how to motivate Jonathan to be more engaged in class. Not only that - he thinks and reasons differently than she does. But does that mean that he's wrong? Should she try to make him think more like she does?

Culturally responsive teaching, or CRT, is a way of teaching that focuses on student's cultural experiences. For example, remember how we said that studies have shown that black and white students have cultural differences in the way that they respond to questions from the teacher? If the teacher is white, she might not understand that her black students have a different cultural understanding than she does.

But culturally responsive teaching focuses on making sure that all teachers understand the cultural background that their students come from. That way, when some students respond to questions one way and other students respond in another way, the teacher can support all of them and understand that they aren't wrong, just different.

So, back to Jeanie's question: should she try to make Jonathan think more like she does? For example, when she's teaching math, she teaches students how to solve problems one way. But Jonathan does math a different way, one that his parents taught him because that's how they learned in the old country. He gets the same answer, but just a different way.

CRT would encourage Jeanie to understand Jonathan and his viewpoint and not to try to make him more like her. Instead, she can appreciate that he approaches things differently because of his culture and encourage him to continue to be true to who he is.

Characteristics

One of the benefits of CRT is that it can be used across all disciplines. Whether Jeanie is teaching elementary school math or graduate school poetry, she can use CRT to help her reach her students and encourage them to learn.

One of the reasons CRT is multidisciplinary is that its characteristics apply to all classrooms. The major characteristics of CRT are:

1. It establishes inclusion.

CRT is about creating an environment where both teachers and students feel respected. Further, CRT helps classes and teachers bond together and support each other, even as they might be very different.

2. It encourages personal development and choice.

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