How can a Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy be implemented in the classroom? Gloria Ladson-Billings introduces 3 ways—or rather, 3 target criteria teachers can pursue to improve their instruction: academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness. Former educator and now team leader, Bárbara Escudero, summarizes Ladson-Billings' "3 fundamental pillars" in an article published on Teach For America.
1. Academic Achievement
Escudero writes about the expectations teachers should have when practicing a Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy by stating that they should hold "high" and "transparent academic expectations" for students by knowing the "content" they are teaching, the "learner," and how to "teach the content to the learner."
She emphasizes that teachers should take the material they are teaching and make them think deeply about what they are teaching, their reasons for teaching it, and how they are going to make the material equitable for all of their students.
As a result, your students will relate the knowledge they are learning to their own learned experiences. Moreover, they will question what they are learning and why they are learning what they are learning.
2. Cultural Competence
Escudero continues to express that those practicing a Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy will understand "their own culture" and the culture of their students.
She states that "by using culture as the basis for learning," instruction will act as a gateway of "mirrors and windows" to learning ...
- Mirror—"Students will see themselves reflected in the classroom"
- Window—Students will "see into the lived experiences of others"
As a result, your “students [will] feel respected and affirmed in their multiple identities, and in return, respect and affirm the multiple identities of others."
3. Sociopolitical Consciousness
Lastly, Escudero expresses that those practicing a Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy will incorporate teachings on the "personal and sociopolitical issues that impact": their "students," their "students’ communities," and the "world."
As a result, teachers will “encourage students to think about and consistently question why things are the way they are and help strengthen their students’ mindset and belief that they can be agents of social change and transformation."
What Will Change?
Together, these three pillars—academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness—will change education starting with each teacher’s pedagogy. Escudero explains that a Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy will reform how teachers think—about their "students" and their "communities." She continues to state that it will also change their teaching "curriculum," their "instruction," and the "role ... [of the individual] teacher." These three pillars will reform more than just how teachers think—rather, education as a whole by helping students become self-actualized and empowered.
With all this information, you may be wondering where to begin? How can you use this information proactively and incorporate it into your pedagogy?
Prodigy and TeachHub.com share their lists on how you can start integrating a Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy into your curriculum. Here are a few of their recommended strategies condensed into a comprehensive list for you to follow.
10 things you can do to start integrating a Culturally Relevant STEM Pedagogy into your instruction:
- Take Time to Learn about Students
- Use a Culturally Responsive Language
- Bring in Diverse Guest Speakers
- Deliver Diverse Forms of Content
- Gamify Learning
- Utilize Different Forms of Technology
- Present Real-World Problems
- Experiment with Peer Teaching
- Interview Students
- Involve Parents by Using Take-Home Letters
If you liked this article, read more about learning methodologies that can help you here: STEM to STEAM—Art Working as a Catalyst for Education 🧠
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