You are here


2 March, 2015 - 10:41
Available under Creative Commons-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Download for free at

Should educators invest valuable time and resources in efforts to respond to students' culture? Is social justice worthy of our efforts to restructure schools? Teachers' home cultures are often different from many of their students. In 2000, only 24.4% of the adult population were college graduates (Haaga , 2004). Accordingly, the vast majority of children in our schools live in homes with parents who are not college educated. This fact alone is an argument for educators to be more cognizant of and attentive to their students' home cultures. Despite efforts, there remain gaps in the achievement between marginalized groups and white, middle class students. Ensuring equity in educational opportunity should be a value we embrace.

The model proposed by Johnson et al. (2009) provides a framework where the definition of knowledge includes knowledge learned informally outside school. The model includes an emphasis on the community in which the school is located. It recognizes, values, and advocates for the people of the community. This model's use is certainly appropriate for, but should not be limited to, schools in rural Appalachia. Schools in Appalachia are more alike than different from other schools. Schools, even within the same district, are unique and draw students from unique communities. Johnson provided a model of leadership that could be used in most, if not all, schools. Students in all schools benefit from having educators who understand and appreciate students' home communities and cultures, and who embed this knowledge within the curriculum and instruction. As Johnson et al. noted, "the power to effect change can evolve from understanding knowledge in the place where one is standing and with whom one is standing" (para. 24).