Chris Emdin, Associate Director of the Institute For Urban and Minority Education, defines and explains cultural relevance in the context of pedagogy.
[INTRO SOUND] Cultural relevance is really about recognizing that culture is an ever-evolving and dynamic phenomenon that is at the anchor of any true teaching and learning. That a school that has all white affluent students needs cultural relevance. And that a school that is urban or rural, where the majority are minority populations need culture relevance. That the construct of culture is ever-evolving, and it’s about teachers being able to recognize or tap into the culture that is most prominent in young people’s lives.
The people will come and talk to you about– they will lead a culturally-relevant conversation about equality, and I believe in equity. But I think when we talk about the pedagogy, it’s about tapping into that shared schema and practices of young people that are right in front of you and leveraging that in your curriculum and in your pedagogy. And that’s all listening.
Now, culturally sustaining is sustaining that practice. Reality pedagogy is just a bunch of tools to help you to be able to enact that practice. But it all boils down to a respect for the ever-evolving and dynamic nature of shared understandings that young people hold, any recognition that that is ever-evolving based on space time, context, local, classroom within the same school building.
For me, cultural events can look different in first period and fourth period, because first and fourth can have different cultural dynamics at play. And so I have to be, as an educator, malleable enough to tap into each unique iteration of culture. It may be shared, but I also have to recognize that it may vary. And I have to be dynamic and fluid and malleable enough to align myself to that ever-evolving nature to of culture.