Kia Aroha College believes that learning is grounded in our students’ cultures.  This understanding goes far wider and deeper than “one-off” cultural days or weeks, and involves changes in thinking about how we learn, what we learn, and how we structure our schools.

Culturally responsive teaching and learning is:

“It’s not culturally responsive, if it’s not also critical.” (Milne 2013)

Duncan-Andrade and Morrell (2008) identify three goals of critical pedagogy as empowered identity development, academic achievement and action for social change.


Geneva Gay (2000)
Gloria Ladson-Billings (1992)
Duncan-Andrade & Morrell (2008)
Ann Milne (2013)
James Banks (1991)

  1. Validating - It uses the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and learning styles of our students to make learning more appropriate and effective for them;
  2. Comprehensive - Culturally responsive teachers develop their students’ intellectual, social, emotional, and political learning. They realise not only the importance of academic achievement, but also the maintaining of cultural identity and heritage.
  3. Multidimensional - Culturally responsive teaching involves many things: curriculum content, learning context, classroom climate, student-teacher relationships, instructional techniques, and performance assessments.
  4. Empowering - Culturally responsive teaching enables students to be better human beings and more successful learners.  Empowerment can be described as academic competence, self-belief, and initiative.  Students must believe they can succeed in learning tasks and have the motivation to persevere.
  5. Transformative - Banks (1991) asserts that if education is to empower marginalized groups, it must be transformative.  Being transformative involves helping “students to develop the knowledge, skills, and values needed to become social critics who can make reflective decisions and implement their decisions in effective personal, social, political, and economic action.”
  6. Emancipatory - Culturally responsive teaching is liberating.  It guides students in understanding that no single version of “truth” is total and permanent.  It does not solely prescribe to mainstream ways of knowing.