Culturally Responsive Teaching the descriptive information they provide, the absence of extraneous detail, and how easily the listener (or reader) can follow the logic and relationship of the ideas (Kochman, 1981). Researchers and scholars call this communicative style “topic-centered” (Au, 1993; Michaels 1981, 1984). Many African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans use a different approach to organizing and transmitting ideas: they use topic chaining in their communication. Their approach is highly contextual, and they devote time to setting a social stage prior to the performance of an academic task. This is accomplished by the speakers’ (or writers’) providing a lot of background information; being passionately and personally involved with the content; using innuendo, symbolism, and metaphor to convey their ideas; weaving many different threads or issues into a single story; and embedding their story with feelings of intensity, advocacy, evaluation, and aesthetics. There also is the tendency among these diverse ethnic groups to make the work conversational (Au, 1993; Fox, 1994; Kochman, 1981; Smitherman, 1994). To the mainstream teacher, their thinking appears circular and their communication sounds like storytelling. To someone who is unfamiliar with it, this communication style “sounds rambling, disjointed, and as if the speaker never ends a thought before going on to something else” (Gay, 2000, p. 96). These (and other) differences in ethnic communication styles have many implications for culturally responsive teaching. Understanding them is necessary to avoid violating the cultural values of ethnically diverse students in instructional communications and to better assess their intellectual abilities, needs, and competencies. Ethnically diverse students need to learn style and code-shifting skills so that they can communicate in different ways with different people in different settings for different purposes. Competency in multicultural communication is an important goal and component of culturally responsive teaching.
12 © Education Northwest 2016 Considering Cultural Diversity when Designing Instruction Gay described culturally responsive teaching as the use of diverse students’ cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles to make learning encounters more relevant and effective for them. Gay’s experience shows that when academic knowledge and skills are taught within the lived experiences and frames of reference of students, they are more personally meaningful, have higher interest appeal, and are learned more easily and thoroughly (Gay, 2010). Fostering high expectations for the achievement of all students requires teaching and learning to happen in a “culturally supported, learner-centered context, whereby the strengths students bring to school are identified, nurtured, and utilized to promote student achievement” (Richards, Brown, & Forde, 2004).
- Fall '10
- The Land, Responsive Teaching