Single Story Combaters in Education: A Call for Culturally Responsive Pedagogies

Single Story Combaters in Education: A Call for Culturally Responsive Pedagogies

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8867-2.ch001
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In this chapter, the author presents the notion of combating “single stories” as a promising, culturally responsive approach to support the success of all children. The stories/narratives or perspectives of people of color have been historically omitted and marginalized in dominant educational discourses. Instead, culturally biased and stereotypical information is oftentimes framed and shared as the single story—the only story. The single story, when internalized by teachers and administrators, presents many unfavorable outcomes for children of color, because it informs curricula decision making. The author demonstrates how the theoretical framework of culturally responsive pedagogies undergirded the effective approaches of educators who combated single stories; and supported students in beating the odds, by demonstrating their potential. The author makes the case that teachers should seek developing culturally responsive approaches rather than seeking strategies.
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I don’t want to be prejudiced, but I think there would be more behavioral problems if I had a class that was more racially mixed. Those kids tend to struggle more and it’s harder to get hold of parents and I don’t know why I think that. Because I know compared to the neighbor next door, the teacher next door, she has three [low performing] kids and hers are the African Americans (Puchner & Markowitz, 2005, p.11).

  • Approach 1: Counter-story by sharing, exposing and critiquing stories, ideas, concepts, beliefs, or ‘norms’ that perpetuate cultural stereotypes; and giving voice to marginalized groups.

The opening quote of this chapter by Mrs. Lester, a kindergarten teacher in the study of Puchner & Markowitz (2005), demonstrated how a single story can become a cultural script that teachers internalize. As a result, teachers develop low expectations that align with that cultural script. Furthermore, the commencing African proverb in this chapter reminds us that there is much power in who is telling a story and from what perspective they are telling it. This quote parallels with what Chimamanda Nozi Adichei (2009, July) cautioned as “the danger of a single story.” The stories/narratives or perspectives of people of color, people of the African diaspora (Dubois, 1903; Perry, Steele, & Hilliard, 2003; Woodson, 1935), African American teachers (Ladson-Billings, 1995), African American male teachers (Simmons, Carpenter, Ricks, et al., 2013) and African American students (Copenhaver, 2000) have been historically and traditionally omitted or marginalized in dominant educational discourses. This means that in many instances, discourse regarding the schooling experiences of children of color narrates only aspects of the story by primarily highlighting either the academic or underperformance of children, without regard to other aspects of the narratives that speak to the experiences, teaching approaches, institutionalized racism, and social inequities that contributed to these outcomes (Hilliard, 1991; Ladson-Billings, 2006; Noguera, 2009).

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