Black band for Brown students: a culturally relevant pedagogy?
Singleton, Darryl Marc
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Multicultural education researchers have long argued the advantages of culturally based pedagogical strategies for the education of students with non-dominant cultural backgrounds. Gloria Ladson-Billings theoretical framework — culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) — is one strategy that, though including acknowledgement of common characteristics of teachers implementing this critical pedagogy, is identified primarily by its results in students who display the three central tenets of CRP — academic achievement, maintained or enhanced cultural competence, and an understanding and critique of the existing social order. Seemingly in contrast to culturally based pedagogical strategies, I have observed Black band teachers who have engaged Hispanic students with pedagogy patterned after HBCU show-style marching bands. The purpose of this study was to investigate a Black band director’s use of show-style band pedagogy to engage Hispanic students as a possible example of CRP. The research questions centered around the three central tenets of CRP: 1. To what extent does the teacher consider students’ culture in the pedagogy in terms of students’ a. academic achievement; b. cultural competence, including i. navigation of and identification with their own culture, and ii. access of another culture; and c. sociopolitical consciousness? 2. What reactions do students have towards show-style pedagogy? 3. What perceptions do students have about the impact of show-style pedagogy on their: a. academic achievement; b. cultural competence, including i. navigation of and identification with their own culture, and ii. access of another culture; and c. sociopolitical consciousness? 4. What nexus exists between the teachers’ pedagogical intent in using show-style pedagogy and students’ a. academic achievement; b. cultural competence, including i. navigation of and identification with their own culture, and ii. access of another culture; and c. sociopolitical consciousness? This was an ethnographic case study executed at an urban high school in Texas with an African American band director and predominantly Hispanic band students. The director was interviewed; band classes, rehearsals, and performances were observed; and student informants along with representative caretakers of those informants were interviewed. Findings included evidence of the three tenets of Ladson-Billings’s culturally relevant pedagogy, though not always along the traditional cultural delineators of race, nationality, or ethnicity. Findings also included band as a culture as a salient theme; another was critique of the status of show-style band in the related milieus of music education and adjudicated scholastic performances The participating band director was found to have implemented some strategies in alignment with CRP independent of any consideration for the students’ Hispanic background. That finding aligned with Ladson-Billings’s own critique that many practices associated with CRP can be conceived of as universal pedagogical goals. The researcher concluded that the implementation of show-style band pedagogy was culturally relevant for the students in the study.
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