The dreamkeepers - edu8306-2012

Gloria Ladson Billings
Effective teaching of
African American
 Inner-city schools are de facto segregated schools
 Public schools have not sustained an effort to provide quality
education for African American students
 African American students attending small African American
schools perform better
 Separate schools?
 Culturally relevant teaching
Does culture matter?
 “I don’t really see color”
 ‘Dysconsciousness’
 …these attempts at colorblindness mask a
‘dysconscious racism,’ an “uncritical habit of mind
that justifies inequity and exploitation by accepting
the existing order of things as given.” This is not to
suggest that these teachers are racist in the
conventional sense.
 It is about being culturally unaware
Does culture matter?
 Culturally diverse students’ failure stems from
societal conflict and a struggle for power; specifically
for African American students, there are special
historical, societal, economic and political aspects to
the role race plays in that struggle.
 Aim is develop a “relevant black personality” that
allows African American students to choose
excellence in school yet still identify with African
and African American culture.
 Students should be able to hold their own in the
classroom without forgetting their community.
Cultural relevant
teaching is…
An approach that empowers students intellectually,
socially, emotionally and politically by using cultural
references to impact knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Communication of high expectations
Active teaching methods
Teacher as facilitator
Inclusion of culturally and linguistically diverse students
Cultural sensitivity
Reshaping the curriculum
Student-controlled classroom discourse
Small group instruction and academically-related
Seeing color, seeing
 Teachers who practice culturally relevant teaching
use student culture in order to maintain it and to
transcend the negative effects of the dominant
 Empowers student by using cultural references to
impart knowledge; moves between two cultures but
recognizes each as legitimate
 Antithesis of assimilation – emphasizes sharing
We are family
• Teachers establish strong, caring relationships with all students
• Recognize that teachers perceptions of students have a
significant impact on student learning
• View themselves as part of the community, and as giving back
to that community
• Connectedness between themselves and their students
• Teaching is an art not a skill
Tree of knowledge
 Knowledge is continuously recreated, recycled and
shared by teachers and students
 Knowledge is viewed critically
 Teacher is passionate about content and helps students
develop necessary skills
 Teacher takes student diversity and individual differences
into account
 Knowledge builds on what students already know
 There is more than one way of knowing, and there is
more than one side to a story
 Highlights students’ strengths and gives them confidence
to confront their weaknesses
Lewis vs. Deveraux
 Students whose educational. Economic, social, political
and cultural futures are most tenuous are helped to
become intellectual leaders in the classroom.
 Students are appreciated in a learning community rather
than taught in an isolated and unrelated way.
 Students’ real-life experiences are legitimized as they
become a part of the ‘official’ curriculum.
 Teachers and students participate in a broad conception
of literacy that incorporates both literature and oratory.
 Teachers and students engage in a collective struggle
against the status quo.
 Teachers are cognizant of themselves as political beings.
Dreams into reality
 Administrators and Teachers’ power and responsibility:
 Administrators should recruit teachers who have expressed
an interest and desire to work with African American
 Provide educational experiences that help teachers
understand the central role of culture
 Provide opportunities to critique the system in ways that
will help them choose a role as a challenger of or a defender
of the status quo
 Require teachers to have prolonged immersion in African
American culture
 Provide opportunities for observation of culturally relevant
 Conduct student teaching over a longer period of time and
a more controlled environment
Dreams into reality
What a school would/should look like:
• Provide educational self-determination
• Honor and respect the students’ home culture
• Help African American students understand the
world as it is and equip them to change it for the
“From the spirituals of enslaved African Americans to
the powerful oratory of civil rights leaders, African
American dreams have challenged the “American
Dream” to make itself manifest for those citizens who
have been excluded from full citizenship. African
Americans have believed that as long as they continued
to dream, there was still a reason to look toward
tomorrow. One of the most tangible vehicles for these
dreams has been education – even when it was
substandard and alienating. African Americans believed
that somehow education could make their dreams a
reality. I too believe and hope that if we can dream it, we
can surely do it.”
~ Gloria Ladson Billings
Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). " The dreamkeepers:
Successful teachers of African American
children." San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

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