Cultural-Centered Teaching: An Inclusive Education

By Faith Brown, MA, MEd

Elementary teacher sits at front of class reading a book to children sitting on ground

Cultural-centered teaching is an instructional method that requires knowledge of all cultures present in the classroom. Once classroom culture has been identified, the culture of the educator forms a perimeter of protection to the learning environment, making it a safe place for students and the teacher to be culturally influenced while learning.

Race is not a factor in cultural-centered teaching, for we can be of the same race, but of different cultures. Culture of community members acts as the light to brighten the paths to success for students when community members are actively involved in providing internships, employment, job shadowing opportunities and information that is essential to students making informed decisions about their future.

Promoting Diversity in Our Schools

Diversity within the school climate is imperative to a holistic and inclusive education for all students. School leaders are obligated to be knowledgeable and respectful of all cultures represented in their school. Standard 3 of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders outlines that the first step to equity and culture responsiveness is for school leaders to guarantee that all students are provided fair treatment and are treated with respect, with consideration of their culture and background.

To promote culture and social inclusiveness, school leaders can establish a Respecting Everyone’s Past (REP) Committee, with school leaders and student representatives from different cultures.

How Culture Has Impacted My Teaching

As the youngest of 13 children, I grew up hearing two generations of different stories from my siblings. The reality of the different cultures within my family compelled me to be respectful of different cultures outside of my family. My reality and culture are not the reality and culture of my oldest sister, who is 20 years older than me. My culture was and is socially inclusive and religiously sound. Therefore, when I thought about what I wanted to be, becoming an educator was decided for me through the path God had designed just for me. Romans 12: 6-8 reads, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

As the youngest sibling who was often misunderstood, I developed a relationship with God at an early age and that relationship is the guide in my teaching practices. I deliver instruction and give examples of academic concepts in a variety of ways, using differentiated instruction and/or through culturally influenced methods. If a student struggles to understand an academic concept, I may then provide that student an example that he or she can relate to culturally. It works!

Tips for Celebrating Culture in the Classroom

My students and I celebrate our cultures through discussions, academics and food. Each person brings a dish from their culture, explains how the dish became a part of their culture and shares information about their culture. I use this activity for cultural awareness as it relates to transition into postsecondary studies or into the world of work. 

It is imperative educators refrain from biases and judgment of the cultures of our students. It is not our responsibility to judge the culture of our students – rather, it is our responsibility to have knowledge of it, respect it and, if necessary, use it to assist in the building of a solid academic foundation.

When educators and students lack knowledge and understanding of culture, teaching and learning cease to occur – and disrespect and biases surface. As Christian educators, we should pray for our students. Jesus was aghast there was no one to intercede on his behalf (Isaiah 59:16). We should not judge the culture of our students, but rather intercede on their behalf so that one day their culture becomes a culture of choice, not circumstance.

Grand Canyon University’s College of Education is built on the pillars of learning, leading and serving. Find out more by visiting our website or contacting us using the Request More Information button.

More About Faith:

Faith Brown is a native of Florence, South Carolina, an LD resource teacher and department chair for the Exceptional Education Program at West Florence High School in Florence, South Carolina. Faith also serves on the PBIS Committee at West Florence High School and is a member of the Florence One Transition Alliance Team. Faith has been employed with Florence School District One for 20 years. She is the proud mother of Pierre Brown, an information technology instructional coach for Lee County School District, in Bishopville, South Carolina.

Faith is a 2013 graduate of Grand Canyon University with a Master of Education in Special Education: Cross Categorical. Faith also has a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina.

Faith enjoys reading, singing, meeting new people and spending time with family.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.