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Culturally Relevant Pedagogies: Possibilities and Challenges for African Canadian Children


by Annette Henry — 2017

Background/Context: Ladson-Billings’s concept of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy for African American children has been widely reinterpreted in various contexts for racialized students. In this reflective essay, I consider its challenges in Canadian contexts.

Focus: I use my early ethnographic work to illustrate important aspects of culturally relevant pedagogies, to raise cross-cultural differences, and as a springboard to engage with newer theorizations.

Research Design: These studies took place in a majority Black K–5 school; in addition, I conducted two studies in Illinois. I argue that the goals of culturally relevant education for Black students within the formal mechanisms of Canadian schooling are impeded by the official policy of multiculturalism that frames the Canadian imaginary and does not include Black people.

Conclusions/Recommendations: In the quest for pedagogies relevant to students’ lives, I call for fuller conceptualizations of Blackness that complicate notions of culture, transnational relationships, and global migrations. Lastly, I call for teachers to embrace the nexus of issues that students negotiate in their daily lives as part of any potentially transformative pedagogy.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 1, 2017, p. 1-27
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21716, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 11:05:24 AM

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About the Author
  • Annette Henry
    University of British Columbia
    E-mail Author
    ANNETTE HENRY is a professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia. Her scholarship examines race, class, language, gender and culture in socio-cultural contexts of teaching and learning in the lives of Black students and Black women teachers’ practice in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. Recent publications include: 'Nostalgia for what cannot be': An interpretive and social biography of Stuart Hall's early years in Jamaica and England, 1932-1959. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 2015, 36(2), 227-242 and. "We especially welcome applications from visible minorities": Reflections on Race, Gender and Life at three universities. Race, ethnicity and education, 2015, 18(5), 591-610.
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