Using Postmodernism to Effectively Teach in Diverse Settings

Using Postmodernism to Effectively Teach in Diverse Settings

Rollin D. Nordgren (Piedmont College, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1177-0.ch006


The challenges brought to classrooms are often exacerbated by a mismatch between teachers' cultural backgrounds and those of their students. This incongruity can be overcome through the use of culturally responsive teaching practices and the integration of culturally relevant curriculum. This chapter suggest the adoption of a postmodern mindset can also aid teachers in meeting the needs of all their students, particularly those with differing life experiences from their own. The author uses a postmodern framework for education that is adopted from Finland and aligns this with the tenets of culturally responsive teaching and also suggests the framework's alignment to culturally relevant curriculum.
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Many teachers in today’s schools are challenged by a growing diversity in their classrooms, but these can be effectively vanquished, and even turned into ways to further their practice, if they use the correct strategies and mindsets. These challenges can be summarized by an incongruity in beliefs, values, and behaviors as the backgrounds of most teachers do not reflect those of the students they serve (Nieto & Bode, 2016). This chapter intends to show how the commonly misunderstood concept of postmodernism can help teachers address the challenges that diversity may bring to their work. Postmodernism is, in its original intent, meant to contextualize (Foucault, 1980; Lyotard, 1984), not hyper-individualize as it is so-often misrepresented today (Boboc & Nordgren, 2014; Slattery, 2013). Contextualization is a crucial aspect in teaching, especially in an environment where there is a mismatch between the teacher’s and students’ backgrounds (Tomlinson, 2017), allowing the teacher to better understand how to best serve her students while still fostering a collective and collaborative classroom culture (Kincheloe, 1993). The postmodern framework shown in this chapter was established by Boboc and Nordgren (2014) based on the works of 19th and 20th century scholars in both education and philosophy and, specifically, to Sahlberg’s (2012) work from Finland. This framework will be shown to effectually align with the tenets of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) as established by Murrell (2002) and Gay (2012). The chapter ends with a brief section on how to align postmodernism and CRT to the content through the introduction of the concept of Culturally Relevant Curriculum.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Kinesthetic: One of the modalities of instruction which incorporate artifacts, realia, and/or other “hands-on” materials.

Culture: Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e., historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; cultural systems may on the one hand be considered as products of action, on the other as conditioning elements of further action.

Values: Concepts or ideas which one holds dear and often drives such behavior as decision making and/or problem solving

Contextualization: A process whereby information/knowledge is made comprehensible by use of relevance, relationality and/or use of concrete artifacts. It can often be considered an aspect of constructivism.

Curriculum: A course of study, especially the body of courses offered in a school or college or in one of its departments.

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Instructional methodology which encompasses the teacher’s heightened awareness of various cultures contained in classroom demographics.

Modernism: A practice, usage, or expression peculiar to modern times. Also a movement to adapt religion to modern thought and especially to lessen traditional elements: an intentional break with the past and a search for new forms of expression.

Zone of Proximal Development: According to Vygotsky, it is the space between a development level which is independent versus one which is guided.

Framework: A model or template, often designed to provide a guide for certain types of instruction and/or curriculum.

Progressive: Relating to or constituting an educational theory marked by emphasis on the individual child, informal classroom procedure and encouragement of self-expression.

Constructivism: An instructional method whereby the curriculum is designed by use kinesthetic approach to learning.

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