Culturally Relevant Instruction
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Culturally Relevant Instruction or Culturally Relevant/Responsive Teaching is education that is based on teachers displaying cultural competence and skills while teaching in a multicultural or cross-cultural setting. This form of education system enables students to be in a better position to relate their curriculum to their cultural context.
Though the term Culturally Relevant Instruction is associated with teaching of African American students in the U.S, it has also been proven to be a very effective form of pedagogy for students of other ethical and racial backgrounds as well. A good example is in Canada where the gap between Western education systems and traditional Aboriginal education has been successfully bridged by including spirituality in Aboriginal educational practices. Academic achievements were easily attained by making education culturally relevant. Culturally Relevant Instruction practices are undertaken in a primary or secondary school setting, however, they can also be relevant within a higher education environment.
Some of the characteristics of Culturally Relevant Instruction include:
- Affirming and validating: Culturally Relevant Instruction is affirming and validating due to the fact that it recognizes the strengths of students’ diverse heritages.
- Comprehensive: Culturally Relevant Instruction is comprehensive because it mainly employs cultural resources in the community to teach skills, knowledge, attitudes and values.
- Multidimensional: there are numerous areas that are encompassed in Culturally Relevant Instruction, and it also uses multicultural theory to the teaching methods, classroom environment and evaluation.
- Liberating: Culturally Relevant Instruction liberates students.
- Empowering: Culturally Relevant Instruction empowers student by giving them the opportunity to exploit their full potential and excel in the classroom and beyond. As a result, empowerment translates into personal confidence, academic competence, courage and the will to act.
- Transformative: Culturally Relevant Instruction is transformative since teachers and their students must generally challenge educational traditions and the status quo.
Teachers must be careful to create an accommodating and inviting classroom culture in order to be relevant and reach diverse audiences. Teachers must show that they care for the cultural needs of their students, because a genuine attitude of interest shown by a teacher will often lead to positive emotions that motivate and empower students.
In addition to Culturally Relevant Instruction, teachers can also use reciprocal teaching, where both the teacher and the students take active roles in leading discussions. By using such a system to complement Culturally Relevant Instruction, students are given the opportunity to express the material according to their cultural viewpoints which is very important in enhancing education.