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Michael Parker

MUED 380
Jesse Rathgeber
9/19/16
Ladson-Billings But thats just good teaching! Response
Gloria Ladson-Billings article on culturally relevant and inclusive
pedagogy brought up many important talking points for educators. By citing
many sources and reviewing her own original experiment, Ladson-Billings
makes a strong argument for teachers incorporating the culture of the
surrounding communities into their curricula on a daily basis.
From the very beginning, Ladson-Billings asserts the point that many
African American students, (or any other minority group), are not achieving
the same academic proficiencies as their non-minority peers because the
schools do not necessarily welcome their culture(s). She quotes Native
American educator Cornel Pewewardy to make the point that from very early
in our history of education, schools have attempted to insert culture into the
education, instead of education into the culture (p. 2). Many of the
references after this build upon this concept and discuss the extensive
history of this behavior in the schools.
Towards the end, Ladson-Billings discusses her three-year case study
that observed eight teachers of African American students and what
characteristics they displayed in their classroom. While most of them had
similar dispositions such as a passion for their subject and working one-onone with students, the study mostly found that there was no exact science to
their methods, but rather authentic and personal interactions with the
students that aided in their overall education. The concept of authenticity in
the classroom is something that I admire greatly and strive to incorporate as
much as possible.
While I did enjoy the article, there were a few things that made me
stop and question them, something I believe is a healthy part of any critical
thinking process. At one point, Ladson-Billings cites a study that states that

non-English speaking students learn better when discussing and reading in


their home language. She then goes on to state that she feels African
American students have been neglected from this consideration. I,
personally, was unsure if she meant that there were specific language needs
of African American students or if she was referencing other needs of the
students. Secondly, while I do realize this article was written mainly for the
theoretical side of the issue, I would have loved to read about some
examples of the application and incorporation of these ideas into the music
classroom.
I found it interesting that the title of the article virtually explained
many of her points throughout. For me, I took thats just good teaching to
mean thats just the right thing to do. We are fortunate enough here at
James Madison University to be instilled with a sense of inclusion and
acceptance into every aspect of our education. For most of us, it seems
second-nature to survey our classroom, assess the needs of the students,
and incorporate aspects of the community into the curriculum. The cultural
and ethnic diversity of the surrounding community of Harrisonburg can also
be seen during our practicum visits to schools, as there is a wide range of
cultural backgrounds and languages spoken in the schools.
Moving forward as an educator, I now know how crucial the concept of
culture is to a classroom, both in school and out of school. The teacher must
not only cultivate a welcoming environment in their classroom but also
incorporate, as best as possible, the cultures that students bring with them
every day. Even though the concept of culture can be vast and seemingly
endless, it is our responsibility as educators to get to know our students as
best as possible, including all aspects of their culture that they bring to the
classroom every day.
Discussion Questions:

1. What are some methods in which you can incorporate a students


cultural background into your standard curriculum? How would you
alter or enhance your curriculum, if necessary?
2. What do you think is the responsibility of the teacher to honor these
cultures? In other words, to what extent is it our responsibility to
incorporate cultures into our curriculum? Is there an extent at all?