“We wanted to see if you were the real deal”: Teaching as a cultural practice in a challenging environment

Katrina Lemon, Frances Edwards

Abstract


Teaching can be viewed as a cultural practice in which teaching is embedded in the culture of the teacher and informed by the culture of the students (Bell, 2011). In this paper, a narrative is presented detailing an authentic example of teaching in New Zealand in which culture is prioritised. It describes the challenges faced by a young female teacher as she worked in a low decile secondary school with male students, the majority of whom were involved in the Mongrel Mob[1] gang. Her approach and responses were centred in her belief in culturally responsive teaching. The deliberate actions of the teacher led to a turning point for the students, allowing their mana to remain intact as she acknowledged their identity, language and culture. This teacher’s experience provides an example of how a teacher can enable learners in diverse classrooms to succeed in their learning.


[1] Mongrel Mob is a notorious street gang in New Zealand, known for its violence and organised crime


Keywords


Culturally responsive; secondary; culture; teaching.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15663/tandc.v17i1.153

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Copyright (c) 2017 Frances Edwards, Katrina Lemon