Black Cultural Learning Styles

By Christina A. Samuels — March 21, 2008 1 min read
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Liz at the blog I Speak of Dreams had a fascinating analysis of “black cultural learning styles,” an idea which she believes should be laid to rest. This idea suggests that black children are shortchanged in “euro-centric” schools because their learning styles are incompatible with most classrooms.

This link, though critical of the theory, is helpful because it gives some examples of what a black cultural learning style supposedly is: cooperative rather than competitive, impulsive, and passive, among other characteristics.

What really caught my attention was a comment she linked to within her essay, where she quoted a person who said there was a push in a school district to note “learning styles” on a student’s individualized education program. The black kids, however, were getting the “kinesthetic learner” label, this commenter noted, while the white children tend to be called “auditory/visual learners.”

When you say X is a "kinesthetic learner," you are basically saying, "forget all that higher-level thinking; algebra, critical reasoning, abstraction, language and mathematics are not for you, you can only learn with your hands. Off to McJobs!" Of course the people bandying about these stereotypes don't realize the import of what they're saying -- black kids better stick to menial labor -- but it's the soft underbelly of the crocodile.

There’s tons of great links within the original essay. Have others noted what this commenter is suggesting, particularly within the area of special education and IEPs?

Tip of the hat to JohnL at Teach Effectively, for pointing out the blog post.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.