Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing

A Discussion About Culturally Responsive Education and Its Importance for UK Educational Content Development

July 21, 2021 Marquita Celestine, Westchester Education Services, UK & International, Kaye Jones, Founder of The Herstorian and Rebecca Durose-Croft, Content Director & Curriculum Specialist, Westchester Education Services, UK Season 1 Episode 20
Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing
A Discussion About Culturally Responsive Education and Its Importance for UK Educational Content Development
Show Notes Transcript

Marquita Celestine, Westchester Education Services UK, asks Kaye Jones, Founder, The Herstorian, and Rebecca Durose-Croft, Content Director and Curriculum Specialist, Westchester Education Services  UK to dive into the definition of CRE (Culturally Responsive Education), how it differs from DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), and explain why CRE can empower all students to achieve academic success.

Marquita Celestine:

Welcome to Westchester words , education ed tech and publishing. I'm Marquita Celestine, business development manager at Westchester education services, UK. In today's episode, Kaye Jones and Rebecca Durose-Croft will be joining me to give an overview of culturally responsive education and why it is an important consideration for your existing and future content development projects. Allow me to introduce our guests today. Kaye Jones is a former history teacher, an author and a creator of The Herstorian, a space dedicated to fighting for equality in history and equity in history education. Also with us today is Rebecca Durose Croft, our content director and curriculum specialist. Kaye, Rebecca, welcome to Westchester Words.

Rebecca Durose-Croft:

Hi, Marquita.

Kaye Jones:

Hi, Marquita. Thanks for having me on.

Marquita Celestine:

Good to have you both here. Rebecca, if we can start with you, can you tell us more about your role at Westchester and the work Westchester is doing and offering to its clients as it relates to CRE and how we work with Kaye and other CRE experts?

Rebecca Durose-Croft:

Absolutely. Um, well I'm Rebecca and I'm the content director at Westchester education services where I oversee the development of our UK and international education projects in terms of the work we do in relation to this topic, we support publishers and ad tech companies by performing culturally responsive education reviews on both their backlists and new content coming through. We work really closely with Kaye and her team of trained CRE reviewers to ensure that these reviews are done thoroughly and thoughtfully. And I think Kaye will agree with absolutely no stone unturned. Um, for me, it's been a really eye-opening experience and , and quite sobering really to work with Kaye and her team on these reviews. And it really is fulfilling to know that the work we're doing is making a difference.

Marquita Celestine:

Thank you. Thank you so much, Rebecca. Kaye, can we bring you in here? Can you now tell us more about your background and the work you do in C R E?

Kaye Jones:

Of course. Um, so I'm an historian by trade and I have a special interest in gender. Now, after having done that work for about a decade, I retrained as a history teacher and while I was in the classroom, I had a really big wake up call, like a huge wake up call. So for the first time, I came face to face with what it means to be a white person and the extensive anti-Black messages that are present in the curriculum. And I thought to myself, I need to learn more, I need to ask questions. And more importantly, I need to do something about it. So last year, I left education and I started The Herstorian to bring more awareness of CRE to the UK and to kind of challenge the way that we think about and teach the past, because how we think about people in the past informs the way that we think about them now. So I work with training history teachers to introduce them to CRE , um , at the moment I'm writing a culturally responsive version of the industrial revolution and of course, I work with Westchester to review educational materials here and in the U S .

Marquita Celestine:

Thank you Kaye. Um, you know, we speak a lot of CRE and a lot of the times we , we assume that it might be same as DEI. I was just thinking that at this point, it would be great if you can sort of explain this in a little bit more depth for us. And if you can explain the difference between CRE and DEI.

Kaye Jones:

Yeah, of course. That's a really good place to start because a lot of people will be unsure of the differences. So the most obvious difference between CRE and DEand I is that CRE is a research based pedagogy . It helps students to create meaningful connections with the curriculum that are based on their very unique range of identities and lived experiences. So at its heart it's about empowering students from all backgrounds to achieve academic success. Now, if we compare that to D E and I , then the most obvious difference there is that D E and I isn't a pedagogy, right? It's an approach. Now, what I found is that diversity tends to look at what we teach. So it looks at topics while inclusion is more about how we teach. And the latter is really framed mostly with regards to students who've got special educational needs, or those who don't speak English as a first language. So it's all about putting applications in place for those needs, which is of course what we should be doing, but we do need to, I think widen our definition of what inclusion should look like to think about cultural needs and social needs? And what I've also found is that D E and I is much more subjective, so it's much more open to individual interpretation, and it will have a different look and it will have a different feel depending on the school that you go to, or you work in and from publisher to publisher. Does that make sense?

Marquita Celestine:

Yes, it certainly does. And it leads me right into my next question to you Kaye, which is why is this work important to education and what are the benefits to students , um, and what are some of these steps or, you know , improvements, if any, you're seeing in the UK education space around CRE?

Kaye Jones:

Excellent question. Um, let me throw some stats at you, first of all. So 95% of young black British children have heard racist language at school . We know that black Caribbean boys are five times more likely than other groups to be excluded from schools. We know that children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds are three times more likely than any other group to leave school without a single qualification. We know that across the UK girls experience really high levels of sexism, which impacts on their school subject choices and leaves many vulnerable to sexual harassment. Now it's no coincidence to me that those particular groups are the ones who are either completely missing, completely absent from educational materials or the ones who are consistently portrayed in a negative stereotyped light. Now, when we do a review , um , we use a rubric so that we can give really tailored and specific feedback. And in terms of what that rubric looks like, we look at kind of three different areas. And one of those is all about representation. It's all about perspective. So we're thinking about who's being included, who's being centered, who has a voice, who is being seen through the lens of somebody else, or who is being seen authentically. Another thing that we look at is relevance. So we're thinking about the implicit and the explicit messages that are being sent to all children from a textbook or during the particular lesson. We think really carefully about those. We think about who's being celebrated, who's being denigrated. And from what I've seen, CRE isn't that well-known here. It wasn't a pedagogy that I ever came across when I was doing my teacher training or when I was working in the classroom. But what I do know is that the UK education space is keen and it is ripe for change. There are loads of initiatives to make change happen, especially around Antiracism and antisexism at the moment. But I believe wholeheartedly that CRE can bring huge benefits to classrooms in the UK for all children , and for all teachers, because it is student centered, because it is empowering, because it teaches children how to recognize systems of oppression , and more important of all, how to critique them.

Marquita Celestine:

Thank you so much, Kaye. Um , you know, you spoke to the, how, how this hugely benefits the students by empowering them. And I think that's really critical in terms of their growth as well. Rebecca, I was wondering if we can bring you back in here and if you can speak to us about the benefits to publishers.

Rebecca Durose-Croft:

Absolutely. I mean, first of all, I just completely agree with everything Kaye has said there. You know, th the , the benefits for students is, is huge here. Uh , but that does start with the publishers . It starts with the work that they do and the reviews that they get done and how that filters down into content. A large and obvious benefit , um , for the publishers is , is that it gives them that assurance that these, that the content meets CRE standards and the standards of inclusion and equity. Um, but I mean, on a more fundamental level by undertaking these reviews, they can be really confident that they're doing that utmost to ensure that all students have access to materials they can relate to, and that they gain understanding for this through this, which Kaye has alluded to. And this really does underpin their learning experience. But it starts with the publishers, I think that's a really important point to make.

Marquita Celestine:

Rebecca in closing, do you have any further advice that we can give to publishers and what they can do?

Rebecca Durose-Croft:

Yeah. I mean, it can be quite a daunting experience to that first step into CRE , especially when this means a lot of work might need to be done, you know especially when everyone's already got such full to do lists, but it really should be prioritized for all the reasons Kaye has mentioned. So , um, I'd really just encourage publishers to get in touch so we can discuss how we can support them through there in both getting the reviews done themselves, but also in their follow-up plans because the process rarely stops with reviews. And it really can't be seen as a box ticking exercise.

Marquita Celestine:

Kaye, Rebecca, thank you so much for taking the time today to give us a comprehensive overview of what is CRE and why it is such an important component of content development, and how this truly help students identify with topics that are relatable and in their development. Thanks again.

Rebecca Durose-Croft:

Thanks, Marquita.

Kaye Jones:

Thank you.

Marquita Celestine:

To learn how the team at Westchester Education Services can help your company with your product development requirements, Complete the short form on the contact us page of the Westchester Education Services, website , Westchester education services.co.uk. And we'll get in touch with you. Thank you for listening to this episode of Westchester words . You can follow our podcast on your preferred streaming platform to be notified about new episodes as they become available and hear previous episodes. I hope you'll join us for the next episode when we will be discussing another topic of importance to education edtech and publishing, Until then stay safe. Be well June .