BOULDER, CO (February 8, 2022) – New America recently released a report about the value of culturally relevant curriculum in schools. According to a new review, the report is timely and helpful, although some limitations in its analysis weaken an otherwise valid exploration of how to address long-standing issues of racial and gender justice.
Christine Sleeter of California State University, Monterey Bay, reviewed New America’s Representation of Social Groups in U.S. Educational Materials and Why it Matters. The report synthesizes research studies that analyze representation of diverse groups in curriculum materials, particularly children’s literature. It finds an underrepresentation of minoritized racial/ethnic groups and females, very little attention to nonbinary and LGBTQ characters, and very little analysis of characters with multiple identities. The report concludes that many students consequently lose the opportunity to see themselves in curriculum and to learn about minoritized Americans who differ from themselves.
The report provides helpful resources, according to Professor Sleeter. But she also flags some weaknesses. First, it concentrates narrowly on character representation in literature; it gives little attention to questions pertinent to other subject areas, such as history. It is also limited by relying as much on non-peer-reviewed as on peer-reviewed studies. Finally, it misses opportunities to connect culturally relevant curriculum with student academic learning, connect gender with culturally relevant education, or reveal how cultures of power (white and male) are represented in curriculum.
Despite these limitations, Professor Sleeter continues, the overall validity of the report’s conclusions remains intact. Taken as a whole, the report draws needed attention to the importance of cultural relevance of curriculum materials.
Find the review, by Christine Sleeter, at:
Find Representation of Social Groups in U.S. Educational Materials and Why It Matters, written by Amanda LaTasha Armstrong and published by New America, at: