Why We Can't Ignore
Culture in the Classroom

Jenning Prevatte, M. Ed.

This past spring semester, my education students and I read Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain by Zaretta Hammond as one of our course textbooks for my Multicultural Education course. This was the first time I’ve used this as a course textbook and the third time reading it. The experience of reading it with my college students was incredibly engaging for all of us. We used this text to support our Community of Learning discussions each week. The students always came to class prepared and had textual evidence to support their thinking, along with asking tons of questions to support the development of new knowledge. They truly valued this book as a critical resource on their educational journey.

Two elements of the book had a considerable impact on my students' learning. The first key takeaway was how to support students from dependent learners to become independent learners. This is a key focus in Hammond’s book. She discusses that “dependent learners cannot become independent learners by sheer willpower. It is not just a matter of grit or mindset.” (Hammond, 2015). We as educators must support the development of intellective capacity. Which she defines as “the increased power the brain creates to process complex information more effectively.” (Hammond, 2015) I greatly advocate for educators at all levels to understand human development and neuroscience. These are key elements in the science of teaching and learning. This understanding shows that culture plays a critical role in the learning process.

Understanding culture's role in the learning process was the second key takeaway from our community of learning discussions. In the text Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain, Hammond informs us about the levels of culture and how schemas are formed through our experiences.  Essentially, culture is our lens to how we view the world. Therefore, culture cannot be ignored in the classroom. My students gained a lot of understanding of the six culturally responsive brain rules. Hammond describes these brain rules as follows:

Hammond states, “As you design instruction and create classroom environments to authentically engage culturally and linguistically diverse students, keep in mind the brain rules. Authentic engagement begins with remembering that we are wired to connect with one another.” (Hammond, 2015)

This book is filled with critical gems to enhance any teacher's practice; this is a must-read whether you teach in ECE, K-12, or Higher Education. I really enjoy how Hammond connects brain science to teaching and learning while explaining her Ready for Rigor Framework. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it! It will support your teaching practice and help you serve learners in your classroom more effectively.

Always remember!

You are talented! You are brilliant!

You connect, engage, and inspire the future!