Culturally Responsive Teaching


Throughout her 44-year teaching career, MCLA Education Professor Roselle K. Chartock has focused on helping future teachers understand tolerance. Now, others may learn of her techniques through her recently published textbook on multicultural education, Strategies and Lessons for Culturally Responsive Teaching: A Primer for K-12 Teachers.

"Multicultural education is everything I've ever taught, whether I was a history teacher or an elementary school teacher or a middle school social studies teacher," says Chartock, a professor of education and history at MCLA for more than two decades. "It's helping our future teachers understand what tolerance is all about and that intolerance, in my opinion, is really one of the major reasons for war, discontent and conflict on all levels - local, state, national and international. People aren't always willing to listen to one another."

Conflict resolution and understanding, says Chartock, are at the heart of what she teaches.

"We haven't really gotten to the point where teachers are integrating culturally responsive teaching, which is an approach that both integrates diverse perspective as well as teaches in a diverse way across the curriculum," she explains. "Students may be different culturally and in terms of their needs and interests. The culturally responsive method individualizes instruction, bringing a particular child an approach that will help him or her learn and succeed."

Chartock says many teachers tend to "teach to the middle" and oftentimes ignore children who are different in some way - whether it's their language or culture, a disability, their race or religion, or a gender or class difference.

"It's not necessarily because teachers don't care about their students, but because they don't know how to address those children's needs. The intention of this book is to help teachers integrate content that is diverse. It's also teaching approaches that will help them meet the needs of their culturally diverse students, as well as students who are in the mainstream," she says. "Teachers also need to understand that 'mainstream students' have in their background something very unique. This book is to help them to understand the children around them who are different so that they will not just be tolerant, but actually respect the differences and learn from those students.

"I don't think there's anything more important," continues Chartock. "You can't have constructive learning of any subject until you have mutual respect within a classroom."