An Important Reminder
Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success by Christopher Emdin
Beacon Press, August 10, 2021
In this challenging book, Teachers College Professor Christopher Emdin details the harm that even well-intentioned teachers inflict on students of color when they require all students to adapt to the White norms of most school and classroom settings rather than to adjust their teaching and incorporate students' rich cultural backgrounds. Drawing from his own experiences as a teacher as well as his observations of many other teachers, Emdin shows in compelling, but also at times, heart breaking detail how students from non-White backgrounds are often marginalized, ignored, underestimated, and even punished for behaviors that are valued in their own cultures. Such a response alienates students and leaves them unempowered and uninspired. Emdin's book is an important reminder to all educators that our jobs are to teach children a curriculum rather than to teach a curriculum to children, with the former requiring teachers to get to know and value the backgrounds of their students and to interrogate how their approaches to teaching and classroom management might alienate some students in their care. For school leaders, Emdin also describes how current evaluation, classroom observation, and promotion practices undermine the efforts of teachers to adapt their teaching approaches to embrace the backgrounds and identities of their students.