Practice Brief 53 -- Topics: Instruction Equity Background Culture ESPAÑOL

How to avoid possible pitfalls associated with culturally responsive instruction

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should learn how to engage in culturally responsive and sustaining instruction—but avoid possible pitfalls that come with this important work.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should focus professional learning experiences on building the cultural competencies and knowledge of teachers. They should involve community members and support relationship building.
  • School Leaders should institutionalize support for teachers to learn about and attend to the cultural lives of youth and communities being served.

What Is The Issue?

All science learning is a cultural process. For the purposes of equity, it is crucial for science teaching to make meaningful connections to the cultural knowledge, experiences, and ways of knowing of students and their communities. However, it is complex work and involves avoiding possible complications and prevalent myths. Culturally responsive and sustaining instruction should attend to the historical and dynamic nature of culture, inherent variation within cultural communities, and issues of power and sovereignty that come with responsibly connecting to culture.



Reflection Questions

  • Read below about culture. Identify communities you belong to related to the natural world.
  • What do you know about the youth and communities you serve? How can you learn about their cultural history and goals?
  • How can you work to “overlap” your curriculum with the lives of youth in respectful ways?

Things to Consider

Defining “Culture”

“By ‘culture,’ we mean the constellations of practices communities have historically developed and dynamically shaped in order to accomplish the purposes they value, including the tools they use, social networks with which they are connected, ways they organize joint activity, and their ways of conceptualizing and engaging with the world.”

Nasir, Rosebery, Warren & Lee, 2014

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.