Culturally Relevant Pedagogy – A Diffusion Model for District-Wide Change to Address Systemic Racism


  • Wendy Mackey St. Francis Xavier University



Culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) has been implemented in classrooms and schools across Canada and the United States to address the inequity that has caused an academic achievement gap between Black and Indigenous students and those students who self-identify as White. The purpose of this paper, which draws upon a larger instrumental case study that investigated CRP as a district-wide change, is to demonstrate an effective model for sustainable, deep-level educational change to address systemic racism through CRP. The primary research question from the larger study was: How do people with different roles throughout the hierarchy of the school district make sense of CRP? In this paper, I highlight two of the key findings from the larger study. First, in order for CRP as a district-wide reform mandate to be implemented effectively, the steps of the reform must be diffused throughout the district rather than decreed from the top of the hierarchal chain of a typical public school system. Second, in order for change that impacts an entire school system to occur, there must be a mechanism for deep learning prior to and during the implementation stage for members of the district.

Keywords: culturally relevant pedagogy, second-order change, decolonizing, sensemaking, university-school partnerships