Keeping It Real: Teaching Authentically in a 21st Century Urban, Predominately African American High School
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Education is an encompassing and holistic endeavor. Curriculum should, therefore, incorporate reflections of students and their potential. American education has for a long time involved itself in the development of democratic citizens, acknowledging the diversity that gives American society her strength and beauty. The significant role of the teacher to provide students with meaningful learning and understanding opportunities is central to the success of any school in developing such learners. Teachers possess knowledge and understanding that is pivotally important in the dissemination of lessons that encourage young people to develop as thoughtful, enlightened and prepared citizens of the global community that are respectful and appreciative of cultural differences; and it is in Language Arts that students observe through various texts, communications and their own writings the shared human experiences. The aim of this research project was to explore the significance of a Language Arts curriculum enhanced with cultural relevancy for secondary students. This qualitative project proposed to examine not only material recently published on multicultural education, but also to explore the practical implementation of a culturally relevant curricular experience at a large, ethnic high school in an urban school district. The verity of de facto segregation, or the occurrence of racial and class segregation in our schools not sanctioned by law (LaMorte, 444), heavily affects curriculum and the need· for culturally relevant instruction. With many large urban schools predominated by Black and Hispanic student populations, the need for authentic and relevant instruction is paramount. The data collected will support the claim that cultural relevancy in the Twenty-first Century urban secondary classroom is significant and meaningful. It is, therefore, imperative that all involved in urban education adhere to the popular phrase among youth's vernacular and 'keep it real' in the classroom.