Adapting pedagogy to cultural context

Author(s): Jukes, Matthew C.H.; Sitabkhan, Yasmin; Tibenda, Jovina J.

Organisation(s): RTI International

Publisher(s): RTI Press

Date: 2021

Pages: 19 p.

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This paper argues that many pedagogical reform efforts falter because they fail to consider the cultural context of teacher and student behavior. Little guidance exists on how to adapt teaching practices to be compatible with culturally influenced behaviors and beliefs. We present evidence from three studies conducted as part of a large basic education program in Tanzania showing that some teaching activities are less effective or not well implemented because of culturally influenced behaviors in the classroom, namely children’s lack of confidence to speak up in class; a commitment to togetherness, fairness, and cooperation; avoidance of embarrassment; and age-graded authority. We propose ways teaching activities can be adapted to take these behaviors into account while still adhering to fundamental principles of effective learning, including student participation in their own learning, teaching at the right level, and monitoring students as a basis for adjusting instruction. Such adaptations may be made most effective by engaging teachers in co-creation of teaching activities.

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