Myths and Gray Areas

Culture is a part of ethnicity and race but also includes ways of life passed from generation to generation demonstrated through art, beliefs, institutions, manners of dress, languages, rituals, religions and in some cases laws. Cognition of this knowledge helps to destroy some of the major myths regarding culturally responsive teaching noted by Irvine and Armento (2001):

• Culturally responsive pedagogy is a new and special type of pedagogy that is relevant only to low income, urban students of color.

• Only teachers of color are able to demonstrate characteristics of culturally responsive educators.

• Culturally responsive pedagogy is a “bag of tricks” that minimizes the difficulty of teaching some students of color.

• Cultural responsiveness requires teachers to master the details of all of the cultures of students represented in the classroom.

• Culturally responsive pedagogy reinforces stereotypes about children of color, characterizing and labeling children based on race and ethnicity.

In order to effectively meet students’ needs, we need to first know who we are and then examine our learners to determine who they are. Like us, our learners cannot be defined by one characteristic which makes them unique. They are pieces which must be looked at in sum to be fully appreciated.

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