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Where’s the Race in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy?

by H. Richard Milner IV

Background/Context: When Ladson-Billings described the pedagogical practices of successful teachers of African American children and consequently conceptualized culturally relevant pedagogy as an analytic resource to describe and make sense of pedagogical practices of teachers, her discussion was situated in a frame that examined instructional moves of teachers, especially with Black students. Since the introduction of this pedagogy, researchers and theorists have broadened Ladson-Billings’s conceptualization to include various other factors. However, race is no longer as central as it was when the framework was introduced.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: I examine published literature on culturally relevant pedagogy in mathematics and English language arts that has considered race in some form. The purpose of this synthesis is to highlight patterns across the literature and to consider potential future areas of study to strengthen and encourage focused research on race and CRP.

Setting: I reviewed established literature to examine the intersections of race, culturally relevant pedagogy, and mathematics or English language arts.

Research Design: I analyzed research articles in the areas of mathematics and English language arts that examined race in some form between 2004–2014 to determine how race is situated and connected to the core of culturally relevant pedagogy.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Although race was a critical component of Ladson-Billings’s conceptualization of culturally relevant pedagogy, research studies in the area demonstrate a marginal, at best, emphasis on race. Studies in the areas of mathematics and English language arts that do include race tend to focus on superficial aspects of race. Future studies should return to the root of the theory and include race as an essential component of empirical studies that draw from culturally relevant pedagogy as an analytic tool to describe pedagogical practices of teachers.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 1, 2017, p. 1-32 ID Number: 21743, Date Accessed: 11/22/2018 5:58:32 AM

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