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Culturally Responsive Teaching in Music Education

Presented by Mackie V. Spradley, Dallas Independent School District, Dallas, TX

University of North Texas, Denton, TX.
2011 CMEA Conference, Colorado Springs, Colorado

In this session, participates will gain tools to reflect upon the multiple implications of
diversity as it relates to the classroom. The primary focus will be on the tenets of culturally
responsive teaching and the dominant social and educational discourses that influence the
music teachers decision-making processes, efforts, expectations, personal identity and
instructional practices.
All teaching and learning occurs within a social context.
Albert Bandura-Social Cognitive Theory
All education is a political act.
Paulo Freire-Critical Pedagogy
Socio-Cultural Perspectives
There are two opposing frameworks with which to view the challenges of education: 1)
Deficit thinking model or 2) Cultural difference.

Historical connections
Both perspectives have been nurtured and developed throughout history.

These frameworks are embedded in a triangulated SYSTEM of EDUCATION-SoE.

What Teachers Think-Attitudes/Expectations

What Teachers Say
What Teachers Do-Practices

Defining Culture. . .

Behavior which is learned or patterned and has rules

observable and non observable behaviors, their underlying rules, the attitudes and values
suggested by these rules and any interpretations and symbol systems used by individuals in
understanding their society or another society (Scarcella & Oxford, 1992)
how people behave, modify language, communication style and habitual thought patternsa
pattern of beliefs, behaviors and values by a group of people (Bennett, 1996)
All learned behavior which is socially constructed (Nida, 1954)
a dynamic process which people use to make sense of their lives and the behavior of others
(Spindler and Spindler, 1990)
Collective programming of the mine manifested in symbols, heroes, rituals and values
(Hofstede, 1997)
Shared ideas, thoughts, assumptions, attitudes, behavior, understandings, stories, and
experiences (adapted from Schein, 1985)
Learned assumptions and behaviors
How do music educators learn about different cultures/diversity?
What are music educators thoughts about different cultures/diversity?
How do music educators talk about different cultures/diversity?

Multiple Perspectives of Cultural Diversity

Historical stories, narratives, scripts

Lived experiences

Educational discourses

Scientific discourses


Printed artifacts/documents



Legal documents

The deficit-thinking model promotes the following ideas about difference, diversity, and
Poor Vocabulary

Lack of Background Knowledge

Lower SES=Lower Intelligence
Lower SES=Lack of Effort

The language used by those who embrace the deficit-thinking model, usually speak in
terms of us and them, they and we, those and so forth.
The arguments posed by the deficit-thinking model have reoccurred throughout
history and are easily accepted as TRUTH.

What influences and shapes your thoughts and practices as they relate to cultural

Culturally responsive teaching provides a COUNTER-STORY to the main discourses music

educators encounter in schools, organizations, media, politics, and so forth.
COUNTER-STORIES can all challenge what music educators believe to truth about
themselves, others, the curriculum they teach, the purpose of teaching and their lived
COUNTER-STORIES help us to experience a view of the world in another persons shoes.

Culturally responsive teaching validates humanity and the lived experience of

Culturally responsive teaching is multidimensional, meaning that it should include
the curriculum, teaching strategies, assessment, teacher student relationships and the
social cultural context of the classroom.
Culturally responsive teaching is comprehensive.
Culturally responsive teaching is emancipatory.
Culturally responsive teaching is empowering.
Culturally responsive teaching is transformative for both the teacher and the student.

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Nieto, S. (1990). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitcal context of multicultural
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