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A Movement Against and Beyond Boundaries: Politically Relevant Teaching Among African-American Teachers


by Tamara Beauboeuf-LaFontant 1999

The purpose of this article is to examine culturally relevant teaching as a political pedagogy and a contemporary manifestation of what was considered "good" teaching in many African American communities served by Black segregated schools. Through examining several ethnographies and autobiographical accounts of segregated schools that were valued by Black students and families, I assert that the "good" of these institutions hinged not simply on the cultural similarities between teachers and students, but more importantly on the "political clarity" of the teachers. That is, these educators recognized the existence of oppression in their students' lives and sought to use their personal, professional, and social power to encourage children to understand and undermine their subordination. I also contend that because they use their knowledge of society's inequities and their influence to empower their marginalized students, the pedagogy of contemporary culturally relevant teachers might be more accurately called "politically relevant teaching." I conclude the article by discussing how recognizing the political and historical dimensions of culturally relevant teaching may broaden its application, as issues of racism and social injustice are relevant to all Americans and not only people of color.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 100 Number 4, 1999, p. 702-723
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10339, Date Accessed: 12/17/2017 12:49:01 PM

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About the Author
  • Tamara Beauboeuf-LaFontant
    University of Houston-Downtown
    E-mail Author
    Tamara Beauboeuf-LaFontant is assistant professor of psychology, University of Houston-Downtown. She is co-editor with D. Smith Augustine of Facing Racism in Education, Second Edition (Harvard Educational Review Reprint Series No. 28, 1996). She has interests in the racial and gender identity developments of teachers and students, as well as the psychological dimensions of inequity in formal education.
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