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You Can't Teach Us if You Don't Know Us and Care About Us

Becoming an Ubuntu, Responsive and Responsible Urban Teacher


Omiunota Nelly Ukpokodu

This book addresses the needs of diverse urban students for a new kind of teacher, classroom learning context, curriculum, and pedagogy in order to effectively learn, perform, and achieve. Drawing on the African concept of Ubuntu as a fundamental framework for enacting a humanizing pedagogy, the text invites teachers, students, and families to enter into an interdependent and interconnected relationship for education. This book is uniquely transformative as it elevates the centrality of student humanity and models the integration of emergent theories and practices, utilizing real-life stories to enlighten and illuminate. Emphasis is placed on Ubuntu pedagogy as a model to emulate, anchored on five ethical dimensions: humanism and Ubuntu competence, relationship and learning community, humanism in the curriculum, pedagogical and instructional excellence, and collaboration and partnership. Particularly valuable for teachers learning to cultivate the spirit of Ubuntu that undergirds their ability to be humane, responsive, socially- just, efficacious, and resilient, this book is a cutting-edge resource for effectively addressing the persistent academic achievement of diverse urban students.

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Chapter 4. Ethic of Curriculum Humanization


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Chapter Overview

Research has consistently reported that many urban students are bored, passive, apathetic, and unmotivated. This chapter focuses on the ethic of curriculum humanization framed by two constructs—cultural relevance and social justice—that respond to these questions: Do urban students need a different curriculum to effectively learn and achieve? How well are teachers prepared to design and enact curricular experiences that actively engage, motivate, and empower urban students’ learning? The chapter addresses the nature of curriculum and knowledge and how they empower/disempower, enfranchise/disenfranchise, and motivate/demotivate students in urban schools. Key perspectives and approaches for designing and enacting a humanizing curriculum in core content areas are addressed.

Curriculum and Educational Inequality

Do urban students need a different kind of curriculum in order to be actively engaged, motivated, and empowered to learn and perform successfully? Ravitch (2010) says they do and contends that the curriculum is the best reform and most durable strategy for improving students’ learning and for closing the achievement gap. Research shows that minoritized urban students do ← 111 | 112 → not have access to a high-quality, disciplinary knowledge curriculum. Researchers describe the low-level curriculum provided urban students as a “coloring curriculum” (Haycock, 2001), and “Crayola curriculum” (Schmoker, 2001). I call it “worksheet curriculum.” These curricular experiences do not foster urban students’ active engagement and critical thinking skills. Research shows (a) that students learn more when they experience a rich and rigorous curriculum and...

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