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Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No.

2, March/April 2002

2001 AACTE OUTSTANDING WRITING AWARD RECIPIENT

Editors Note: This article draws from Geneva Gays recent book, Culturally Responsive
Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice, which received the 2001 Outstanding Writing
Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

PREPARING FOR CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING

Geneva Gay
University of Washington, Seattle

In this article, a case is made for improving the them more effectively. It is based on the assump-
school success of ethnically diverse students tion that when academic knowledge and skills
through culturally responsive teaching and for are situated within the lived experiences and
preparing teachers in preservice education pro- frames of reference of students, they are more
grams with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills personally meaningful, have higher interest ap-
needed to do this. The ideas presented here are peal, and are learned more easily and thoroughly
brief sketches of more thorough explanations (Gay, 2000). As a result, the academic achieve-
included in my recent book, Culturally Respon- ment of ethnically diverse students will improve
sive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice (2000). when they are taught through their own cul-
The specific components of this approach to tural and experiential filters (Au & Kawakami,
teaching are based on research findings, theo- 1994; Foster, 1995; Gay, 2000; Hollins, 1996;
retical claims, practical experiences, and per- Kleinfeld, 1975; Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1995).
sonal stories of educators researching and work-
ing with underachieving African, Asian, Latino,
DEVELOPING A CULTURAL
and Native American students. These data were
DIVERSITY KNOWLEDGE BASE
produced by individuals from a wide variety of
disciplinary backgrounds including anthropol- Educators generally agree that effective teach-
ogy, sociology, psychology, sociolinguistics, com- ing requires mastery of content knowledge and
munications, multicultural education, K-college pedagogical skills. As Howard (1999) so aptly
classroom teaching, and teacher education. Five stated, We cant teach what we dont know.
essential elements of culturally responsive teach- This statement applies to knowledge both of
ing are examined: developing a knowledge base student populations and subject matter. Yet, too
about cultural diversity, including ethnic and many teachers are inadequately prepared to teach
cultural diversity content in the curriculum, dem- ethnically diverse students. Some professional
onstrating caring and building learning com- programs still equivocate about including multi-
munities, communicating with ethnically diverse cultural education despite the growing num-
students, and responding to ethnic diversity in bers of and disproportionately poor performance
the delivery of instruction. Culturally responsive of students of color. Other programs are trying
teaching is defined as using the cultural charac- to decide what is the most appropriate place and
teristics, experiences, and perspectives of ethni- face for it. A few are embracing multicultural
cally diverse students as conduits for teaching education enthusiastically. The equivocation is
Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002 106-116
2002 by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

106
inconsistent with preparing for culturally respon- ence) and cultural diversity are incompatible, or
sive teaching, which argues that explicit knowl- that combining them is too much of a concep-
edge about cultural diversity is imperative to tual and substantive stretch for their subjects to
meeting the educational needs of ethnically diverse maintain disciplinary integrity. This is simply
students. not true. There is a place for cultural diversity in
Part of this knowledge includes understand- every subject taught in schools. Furthermore,
ing the cultural characteristics and contribu- culturally responsive teaching deals as much
tions of different ethnic groups (Hollins, King, & with using multicultural instructional strate-
Hayman, 1994; King, Hollins, & Hayman, 1997; gies as with adding multicultural content to the
Pai, 1990; Smith, 1998). Culture encompasses curriculum. Misconceptions like these stem, in
many things, some of which are more important part, from the fact that many teachers do not
for teachers to know than others because they know enough about the contributions that dif-
have direct implications for teaching and learn- ferent ethnic groups have made to their subject
ing. Among these are ethnic groups cultural areas and are unfamiliar with multicultural edu-
values, traditions, communication, learning styles, cation. They may be familiar with the achieve-
contributions, and relational patterns. For exam- ments of select, high-profile individuals from
ple, teachers need to know (a) which ethnic some ethnic groups in some areas, such as Afri-
groups give priority to communal living and can American musicians in popular culture or
cooperative problem solving and how these pref- politicians in city, state, and national govern-
erences affect educational motivation, aspira- ment. Teachers may know little or nothing about
tion, and task performance; (b) how different the contributions of Native Americans and Asian
ethnic groups protocols of appropriate ways Americans in the same arenas. Nor do they
for children to interact with adults are exhibited know enough about the less publicly visible but
in instructional settings; and (c) the implications very significant contributions of ethnic groups
of gender role socialization in different ethnic in science, technology, medicine, math, theol-
groups for implementing equity initiatives in ogy, ecology, peace, law, and economics.
classroom instruction. This information consti- Many teachers also are hard-pressed to have
tutes the first essential component of the knowl- an informed conversation about leading multi-
edge base of culturally responsive teaching. Some cultural education scholars and their major pre-
of the cultural characteristics and contributions mises, principles, and proposals. What they think
of ethnic groups that teachers need to know are they know about the field is often based on
explained in greater detail by Gold, Grant, and superficial or distorted information conveyed
Rivlin (1977); Shade (1989); Takaki (1993); Banks through popular culture, mass media, and crit-
and Banks (1995); and Spring (1995). ics. Or their knowledge reflects cursory aca-
The knowledge that teachers need to have demic introductions that provide insufficient
about cultural diversity goes beyond mere aware- depth of analysis of multicultural education.
ness of, respect for, and general recognition of These inadequacies can be corrected by teach-
the fact that ethnic groups have different values ers acquiring more knowledge about the con-
or express similar values in various ways. Thus, tributions of different ethnic groups to a wide
the second requirement for developing a knowl- variety of disciplines and a deeper understand-
edge base for culturally responsive teaching is ing of multicultural education theory, research,
acquiring detailed factual information about the and scholarship. This is a third important pillar
cultural particularities of specific ethnic groups of the knowledge foundation of culturally respon-
(e.g., African, Asian, Latino, and Native Ameri- sive teaching. Acquiring this knowledge is not
can). This is needed to make schooling more as difficult as it might at first appear. Ethnic
interesting and stimulating for, representative individuals and groups have been making wor-
of, and responsive to ethnically diverse students. thy contributions to the full range of life and cul-
Too many teachers and teacher educators think ture in the United States and humankind from
that their subjects (particularly math and sci- the very beginning. And there is no shortage of

Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002 107


quality information available about multicul- decontextualizing women, their issues, and their
tural education. It just has to be located, learned, actions from their race and ethnicity; ignoring
and woven into the preparation programs of poverty; and emphasizing factual information
teachers and classroom instruction. This can be while minimizing other kinds of knowledge (such
accomplished, in part, by all prospective teach- as values, attitudes, feelings, experiences, and
ers taking courses on the contributions of ethnic ethics). Culturally responsive teaching reverses
groups to the content areas that they will teach these trends by dealing directly with contro-
and on multicultural education. versy; studying a wide range of ethnic individu-
als and groups; contextualizing issues within
DESIGNING CULTURALLY race, class, ethnicity, and gender; and including
RELEVANT CURRICULA multiple kinds of knowledge and perspectives.
It also recognizes that these broad-based analy-
In addition to acquiring a knowledge base ses are necessary to do instructional justice to
about ethnic and cultural diversity, teachers need the complexity, vitality, and potentiality of eth-
to learn how to convert it into culturally respon- nic and cultural diversity. One specific way to
sive curriculum designs and instructional strat- begin this curriculum transformation process is
egies. Three kinds of curricula are routinely to teach preservice (and inservice) teachers how
present in the classroom, each of which offers
to do deep cultural analyses of textbooks and
different opportunities for teaching cultural
other instructional materials, revise them for
diversity. The first is formal plans for instruction
better representations of culturally diversity, and
approved by the policy and governing bodies of
provide many opportunities to practice these
educational systems. They are usually anchored
skills under guided supervision. Teachers need
in and complemented by adopted textbooks
to thoroughly understand existing obstacles to
and other curriculum guidelines such as the
culturally responsive teaching before they can
standards issued by national commissions,
successfully remove them.
state departments of education, professional asso-
ciations, and local school districts. Even though Other instructional plans used frequently in
these curriculum documents have improved over schools are called the symbolic curriculum (Gay,
time in their treatment of ethnic and cultural 1995). They include images, symbols, icons, mot-
diversity, they are still not as good as they need toes, awards, celebrations, and other artifacts
to be (Wade, 1993). Culturally responsive teach- that are used to teach students knowledge, skills,
ers know how to determine the multicultural morals, and values. The most common forms of
strengths and weaknesses of curriculum designs symbolic curricula are bulletin board decora-
and instructional materials and make the changes tions; images of heroes and heroines; trade books;
necessary to improve their overall quality. These and publicly displayed statements of social eti-
analyses should focus on the quantity, accuracy, quette, rules and regulations, ethical principles,
complexity, placement, purpose, variety, signif- and tokens of achievement. Therefore, class-
icance, and authenticity of the narrative texts, room and school walls are valuable advertis-
visual illustrations, learning activities, role mod- ing space, and students learn important les-
els, and authorial sources used in the instruc- sons from what is displayed there. Over time,
tional materials. There are several recurrent trends they come to expect certain images, value what
in how formal school curricula deal with ethnic is present, and devalue that which is absent.
diversity that culturally responsive teachers need Culturally responsive teachers are critically con-
to correct. Among them are avoiding controver- scious of the power of the symbolic curriculum
sial issues such as racism, historical atrocities, as an instrument of teaching and use it to help
powerlessness, and hegemony; focusing on the convey important information, values, and actions
accomplishments of the same few high-profile about ethnic and cultural diversity. They ensure
individuals repeatedly and ignoring the actions that the images displayed in classrooms repre-
of groups; giving proportionally more attention sent a wide variety of age, gender, time, place,
to African Americans than other groups of color; social class, and positional diversity within and

108 Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002


across ethnic groups and that they are accurate information disseminated through the societal
extensions of what is taught through the formal curriculum.
curriculum. For example, lessons of leadership,
power, and authority taught through images DEMONSTRATING CULTURAL CARING
should include males and females and expres- AND BUILDING A LEARNING COMMUNITY
sive indicators of these accomplishments from
many different ethnic groups. A third critical component of preparation for
A third type of curriculum that is fundamen- culturally responsive teaching is creating class-
tal to culturally responsive teaching is what room climates that are conducive to learning for
Corts (1991, 1995, 2000) has called the societal ethnically diverse students. Pedagogical actions
curriculum. This is the knowledge, ideas, and are as important as (if not more important than)
impressions about ethnic groups that are por- multicultural curriculum designs in implement-
trayed in the mass media. Television programs, ing culturally responsive teaching. They are not
newspapers, magazines, and movies are much simply technical processes of applying any best
practices to underachieving students of color,
more than mere factual information or idle enter-
however. Much more is required. Teachers need
tainment. They engage in ideological manage-
to know how to use cultural scaffolding in teach-
ment (Spring, 1992) and construct knowledge
ing these studentsthat is, using their own cul-
(Corts, 1995) because their content reflects and
tures and experiences to expand their intellec-
conveys particular cultural, social, ethnic, and
tual horizons and academic achievement. This
political values, knowledge, and advocacies. For
begins by demonstrating culturally sensitive car-
many students, mass media is the only source of
ing and building culturally responsive learning
knowledge about ethnic diversity; for others,
communities. Teachers have to care so much
what is seen on television is more influential
about ethnically diverse students and their
and memorable than what is learned from books achievement that they accept nothing less than
in classrooms. Unfortunately, much of this knowl- high-level success from them and work dili-
edge is inaccurate and frequently prejudicial. gently to accomplish it (Foster, 1997; Kleinfeld,
In a study of ethnic stereotyping in news report- 1974, 1975). This is a very different conception of
ing, Campbell (1995) found that these programs caring than the often-cited notion of gentle
perpetuate myths about life outside of white nurturing and altruistic concern, which can
mainstream America . . . [that] contribute to an lead to benign neglect under the guise of letting
understanding of minority cultures as less sig- students of color make their own way and move
nificant, as marginal (p. 132). Members of both at their own pace.
minority and majority groups are negatively Culturally responsive caring also places teach-
affected by these images and representations. ers in an ethical, emotional, and academic part-
Ethnic distortions in mass media are not limited nership with ethnically diverse students, a part-
to news programs; they are pervasive in other nership that is anchored in respect, honor, integ-
types of programming as well. The messages rity, resource sharing, and a deep belief in the
they transmit are too influential for teachers to possibility of transcendence (Gay, 2000, p. 52).
ignore. Therefore, culturally responsive teach- Caring is a moral imperative, a social responsi-
ing includes thorough and critical analyses of bility, and a pedagogical necessity. It requires
how ethnic groups and experiences are pre- that teachers use knowledge and strategic think-
sented in mass media and popular culture. ing to decide how to act in the best interests of
Teachers need to understand how media images others . . . [and] binds individuals to their soci-
of African, Asian, Latino, Native, and European ety, to their communities, and to each other
Americans are manipulated; the effects they have (Webb, Wilson, Corbett, & Mordecai, 1993, pp. 33-
on different ethnic groups; what formal school 34). In culturally responsive teaching, the knowl-
curricula and instruction can do to counteract edge of interest is information about ethnically
their influences; and how to teach students to be diverse groups; the strategic thinking is how
discerning consumers of and resisters to ethnic this cultural knowledge is used to redesign teach-

Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002 109


ing and learning; and the bounds are the reci- The process of building culturally responsive
procity involved in students working with each communities of learning is important for teach-
other and with teachers as partners to improve ers to know as well. The emphasis should be on
their achievement. Thus, teachers need to under- holistic or integrated learning. Contrary to the
stand that culturally responsive caring is action tendency in conventional teaching to make dif-
oriented in that it demonstrates high expecta- ferent types of learning (cognitive, physical, emo-
tions and uses imaginative strategies to ensure tional) discrete, culturally responsive teaching
academic success for ethnically diverse students. deals with them in concert. Personal, moral,
Teachers genuinely believe in the intellectual social, political, cultural, and academic knowl-
potential of these students and accept, unequiv- edge and skills are taught simultaneously. For
ocally, their responsibility to facilitate its real- example, students are taught their cultural heri-
ization without ignoring, demeaning, or neglect- tages and positive ethnic identity development
ing their ethnic and cultural identities. They along with math, science, reading, critical think-
build toward academic success from a basis of ing, and social activism. They also are taught
cultural validation and strength. about the heritages, cultures, and contributions
Building community among diverse learners of other ethnic groups as they are learning their
is another essential element of culturally respon- own. Culturally responsive teachers help stu-
sive teaching. Many students of color grow up dents to understand that knowledge has moral
in cultural environments where the welfare of and political elements and consequences, which
the group takes precedence over the individual obligate them to take social action to promote
and where individuals are taught to pool their freedom, equality, and justice for everyone. The
resources to solve problems. It is not that indi- positive effects of teaching these knowledges
viduals and their needs are neglected; they are and skills simultaneously for African, Asian,
Latino, and Native American students are docu-
addressed within the context of group function-
mented by Ladson-Billings (1994); Foster (1995);
ing. When the group succeeds or falters, so do
Krater, Zeni, & Cason, (1994); Tharp & Gallimore
its individual members. As a result, the group
(1988); Escalant and Dirmann (1990); and Sheets
functions somewhat like a mutual aid society
(1995).
in which all members are responsible for help-
ing each other perform and ensuring that every-
one contributes to the collective task. The posi- CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS
tive benefits of communities of learners and Effective cross-cultural communication is a
cooperative efforts on student achievement have fourth pivotal element of preparing for cultur-
been validated by Escalant and Dirmann (1990) ally responsive teaching. Porter and Samovar
in high school mathematics for Latinos; by Sheets (1991) explained that culture influences what
(1995) in high school Spanish language and lit- we talk about; how we talk about it; what we
erature with low-achieving Latinos; by Fullilove see, attend to, or ignore; how we think; and what
and Treisman (1990) in 1st-year college calculus we think about (p. 21). Montagu and Watson
with African, Latino, and Chinese Americans; (1979) added that communication is the ground
and by Tharp and Gallimore (1988) in elemen- of meeting and the foundation of community
tary reading and language arts with Native (p. vii) among human beings. Without this meet-
Hawaiian children. These ethics and styles of ing and community in the classroom, learn-
working are quite different from the typical ing is difficult to accomplish for some students.
ones used in schools, which give priority to the In fact, determining what ethnically diverse stu-
individual and working independently. Cul- dents know and can do, as well as what they are
turally responsive teachers understand how con- capable of knowing and doing, is often a func-
flicts between different work styles may inter- tion of how well teachers can communicate with
fere with academic efforts and outcomes, and them. The intellectual thought of students from
they understand how to design more commu- different ethnic groups is culturally encoded
nal learning environments. (Cazden, John, & Hymes, 1985) in that its expres-

110 Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002


sive forms and substance are strongly influ- without corresponding cultural knowledge of
enced by cultural socialization. Teachers need to these ethnic groups.
be able to decipher these codes to teach ethni- There are several other more specific compo-
cally diverse students more effectively. nents of the communication styles of ethnic groups
As is the case with any cultural component, that should be part of the preparation for and
characteristics of ethnic communication styles practice of culturally responsive teaching. One
are core traits of group trends, not descriptions of these is the protocols of participation in dis-
of the behaviors of individual members of the course. Whereas in mainstream schooling and
group. Whether and how particular individuals culture a passive-receptive style of communica-
manifest these characteristics vary along con- tion and participation predominates, many groups
tinua of depth, clarity, frequency, purity, pur- of color use an active-participatory one. In the
pose, and place. However, expressive variabil- first, communication is didactic, with the speaker
ity of cultural characteristics among ethnic group playing the active role and the listener being
members does not nullify their existence. It is passive. Students are expected to listen quietly
imperative for teachers to understand these reali- while teachers talk and to talk only at prescribed
ties because many of them are hesitant about times when granted permission by the teacher.
dealing with cultural descriptors for fear of ste- Their participation is usually solicited by teach-
reotyping and overgeneralizing. They compen- ers asking convergent questions that are posed
sate for this danger by trying to ignore or deny to specific individuals and require factual, right
the existence of cultural influences on students answer responses. This pattern is serialized in
behaviors and their own. The answer is not that it is repeated from one student to the next
denial or evasion but direct confrontation and (Goodlad, 1984; Philips, 1983).
thorough, critical knowledge of the interactive In contrast, the communicative styles of most
relationships between culture, ethnicity, com- ethnic groups of color in the United States are
munication, and learning and between individ- more active, participatory, dialectic, and multi-
uals and groups. modal. Speakers expect listeners to engage with
Culturally responsive teacher preparation pro- them as they speak by providing prompts, feed-
grams teach how the communication styles of back, and commentary. The roles of speaker and
different ethnic groups reflect cultural values listener are fluid and interchangeable. Among
and shape learning behaviors and how to mod- African Americans, this interactive communi-
ify classroom interactions to better accommo- cative style is referred to as call-response (Baber,
date them. They include knowledge about the 1987; Smitherman, 1977); and for Native Hawai-
linguistic structures of various ethnic communi- ians, it is called talk-story (Au, 1993; Au &
cation styles as well as contextual factors, cul- Kawakami, 1994). Among European American
tural nuances, discourse features, logic and females, the somewhat similar practice of talk-
rhythm, delivery, vocabulary usage, role rela- ing along with the speaker to show involve-
tionships of speakers and listeners, intonation, ment, support, and confirmation is described as
gestures, and body movements. Research reported rapport talk (Tannen, 1990). These communal
by Cazden et al. (1985), Kochman (1981), and communication styles can be problematic in the
Smitherman (1994) indicated that the discourse classroom for both teachers and students. Unin-
features of cultural communications are more formed and unappreciative teachers consider
challenging and problematic in teaching ethni- them rude, distractive, and inappropriate and
cally different students than structural linguistic take actions to squelch them. Students who are
elements. The cultural markers and nuances told not to use them may be, in effect, intellectu-
embedded in the communicative behaviors of ally silenced. Because they are denied use of
highly ethnically affiliated Latino, Native, their natural ways of talking, their thinking,
Asian, and African Americans are difficult to intellectual engagement, and academic efforts
recognize, understand, accept, and respond to are diminished as well.

Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002 111


Another communication technique important ues of ethnically diverse students in instruc-
to doing culturally responsive teaching is under- tional communications; to better decipher their
standing different ethnic groups patterns of task intellectual abilities, needs, and competencies;
engagement and organizing ideas. In school, stu- and to teach them style or code-shifting skills so
dents are taught to be very direct, precise, deduc- that they can communicate in different ways
tive, and linear in communication. That is, they with different people in different settings for
should be parsimonious in talking and writing, different purposes. Therefore, multicultural com-
avoid using lots of embellishment, stay focused munication competency is an important goal and
on the task or stick to the point, and build a logi- component of culturally responsive teaching.
cal case from the evidence to the conclusion,
from the parts to the whole. When issues are CULTURAL CONGRUITY IN
debated and information is presented, students CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION
are expected to be objective, dispassionate, and
explicit in reporting carefully sequential facts. The final aspect of preparation for culturally
The quality of the discourse is determined by responsive teaching discussed in this article deals
the clarity of the descriptive information pro- with the actual delivery of instruction to ethni-
cally diverse students. Culture is deeply embed-
vided; the absence of unnecessary verbiage, flair,
ded in any teaching; therefore, teaching ethni-
or drama; and how easily the listener (or reader)
cally diverse students has to be multiculturalized.
can discern the logic and relationship of the
A useful way to think about operationalizing
ideas (Kochman, 1981). Researchers and schol-
this idea in the act of teaching is matching instruc-
ars call this communicative style topic-centered
tional techniques to the learning styles of diverse
(Au, 1993; Michaels 1981, 1984). Many African,
students. Or, as the contributing authors to Edu-
Asian, Latino, and Native Americans use a dif-
cation and Cultural Process (Spindler, 1987) sug-
ferent approach to organizing and transmitting
gested, establishing continuity between the modus
ideas: one called topic-chaining communication. operandi of ethnic groups and school cultures in
It is highly contextual, and much time is devoted teaching and learning. Many possibilities for
to setting a social stage prior to the performance establishing these matches, intersections, or
of an academic task. This is accomplished by the bridges are implied in the previous discussions.
speakers (or writers) providing a lot of back- For example, a topic-chaining communication
ground information; being passionately and per- style is very conducive to a storytelling teaching
sonally involved with the content of the dis- style. Cooperative group learning arrangements
course; using much indirectness (such as innu- and peer coaching fit well with the communal
endo, symbolism, and metaphor) to convey ideas; cultural systems of African, Asian, Native, and
weaving many different threads or issues into a Latino American groups (Gay, 2000; Spring, 1995).
single story; and embedding talk with feelings Autobiographical case studies and fiction can
of intensity, advocacy, evaluation, and aesthet- crystallize ethnic identity and affiliation issues
ics. There also is the tendency to make the dis- across contextual boundaries (i.e., geographic,
course conversational (Au, 1993; Fox, 1994; generational, temporal). Motion and movement,
Kochman, 1981; Smitherman, 1994). The think- music, frequent variability in tasks and formats,
ing of these speakers appears to be circular, and novelty, and dramatic elements in teaching
their communication sounds like storytelling. improve the academic performance of African
To one who is unfamiliar with it, this communi- Americans (Allen & Boykin, 1992; Allen & But-
cation style sounds rambling, disjointed, and ler, 1996; Boykin, 1982; Guttentag & Ross, 1972;
as if the speaker never ends a thought before Hanley, 1998).
going on to something else (Gay, 2000, p. 96). Cultural characteristics provide the criteria
These (and other) differences in ethnic commu- for determining how instructional strategies
nication styles have many implications for cul- should be modified for ethnically diverse stu-
turally responsive teaching. Understanding them dents. Developing skills in this area should begin
is necessary to avoid violating the cultural val- with teacher education students confronting the

112 Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002


misconceptions and controversies surrounding connect prior knowledge with new knowledge,
learning styles. Some might be resolved by under- the known with the unknown, and abstractions
standing that learning styles are how individu- with lived realities. Teachers need to develop
als engage in the process of learning, not their rich repertoires of multicultural instructional
intellectual abilities. Like all cultural phenom- examples to use in teaching ethnically diverse
ena, they are complex, multidimensional, and students.
dynamic. There is room for individuals to move This is not something that happens automati-
around within the characteristics of particular cally or simply because we want it to. It is a
learning styles, and they can be taught to cross learned skill that should be taught in teacher
style parameters. Learning styles do have core preparation programs. The process begins with
structures, and specific patterns by ethnic groups understanding the role and prominence of ex-
are discernible (see, for instance, Shade, 1989). amples in the instructional process, knowing
The internal structure of ethnic learning styles the cultures and experiences of different ethnic
includes at least eight key components (which groups, harvesting teaching examples from these
are configured differently for various groups): critical sources, and learning how to apply multi-
preferred content; ways of working through learn- cultural examples in teaching other knowledge
ing tasks; techniques for organizing and con- and skillsfor instance, using illustrations of
veying ideas and thoughts; physical and social ethnic architecture, fabric designs, and recipes
settings for task performance; structural arrange- in teaching geometric principles, mathematical
ments of work, study, and performance space; operations, and propositional thought. Or us-
perceptual stimulation for receiving, process- ing various samples of ethnic literature in teach-
ing, and demonstrating comprehension and com- ing the concept of genre and reading skills such
petence; motivations, incentives, and rewards as comprehension, inferential thinking, vocabu-
for learning; and interpersonal interactional styles. lary building, and translation. Research indi-
These dimensions provide different points of cates that culturally relevant examples have pos-
entry and emphasis for matching instruction to itive effects on the academic achievement of eth-
nically diverse students. Boggs, Watson-Gegeo,
the learning styles of students from various eth-
and McMillen (1985) and Tharp and Gallimore
nic groups. To respond most effectively to them,
(1988) demonstrated these effects for Native Ha-
teachers need to know how they are configured
waiians; Foster (1989), Lee (1993), and Moses
for different ethnic groups as well as the patterns
and Cobb (2001) for African Americans; Garca
of variance that exist within the configurations.
(1999) for Latinos and limited-English speakers;
Another powerful way to establish cultural
and Lipka and Mohatt (1998) for Native Alas-
congruity in teaching is integrating ethnic and
kans. Observations made by Lipka and Mohatt
cultural diversity into the most fundamental on their research and practice with using cul-
and high-status aspects of the instructional pro- tural examples to teach math and science to
cess on a habitual basis. An examination of Yupik students in Alaska underscored the im-
school curricula and measures of student achieve- portance and benefits of these strategies for im-
ment indicates that the highest stakes and high- proving school achievement. They noted that
est status school subjects or skill areas are math,
science, reading, and writing. Teachers should Important connections between an aboriginal sys-
tem of numbers and measurements and the hunting
learn how to multiculturalize these especially,
and gathering context from which it derived can be
although all formal and informal aspects of the used as a bridge to the decontextualized abstract
educational process also should be changed. system often used in teaching mathematics and sci-
Further analysis of teaching behaviors reveals ence, . . . can demystify how mathematics and sci-
that a high percentage of instructional time is ence are derived . . . [and] visualize . . . ways in which
everyday tasks and knowledge can be a basis for
devoted to giving examples, scenarios, and
learning in formal schooling. (p. 176).
vignettes to demonstrate how information,
principles, concepts, and skills operate in prac- A wide variety of other techniques for incor-
tice. These make up the pedagogical bridges that porating culturally diverse contributions, expe-

Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002 113


riences, and perspectives into classroom teaching held accountable for doing so if they are not ade-
can be extracted from the work of these and quately prepared. Therefore, teacher preparation
other scholars. They are valuable models and programs must be as culturally responsive to
incentives for doing culturally responsive teach- ethnic diversity as K-12 classroom instruction.
ing and should be a routine part of teacher prep-
aration programs.
REFERENCES
Allen, B. A., & Boykin, A. W. (1992). African-American
CONCLUSION children and the educative process: Alleviating cultural
The components of the preparation for and discontinuity through prescriptive pedagogy. School Psy-
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Tharp, R. G., & Gallimore, R. (1988). Rousing minds to life: within the graduate studies and teacher education pro-
Teaching, learning, and schooling in social context. Cam- grams. She is a former high school social studies teacher.
bridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Her research, teaching, and scholarship interests include
Wade, R. C. (1993). Content analysis of social studies text- the interaction among culture, ethnicity, and education;
books: A review of ten years of research. Theory and
curriculum design, staff development, and classroom instruc-
Research in Social Education, 21(3), 232-256.
tion for multicultural education; and bridging multicul-
Webb, J., Wilson, B., Corbett, D., & Mordecai, R. (1993).
Understanding caring in context: Negotiating borders tural education theory and practice. She is the author of
and barriers. Urban Review, 25(1), 25-45. more than 130 articles and book chapters, the author of two
books, and the coeditor of one. Her latest book, Culturally
Geneva Gay is a professor of education at the Univer- Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice
sity of Washington, Seattle, where she teaches courses in (2000, Teachers College Press), received the AACTE 2001
multicultural education and general curriculum theory Outstanding Writing Award.

116 Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 53, No. 2, March/April 2002