Skip to main content

Advancing alternate tools: why science education needs CRP and CRT


Ridgeway and Yerrick’s paper, Whose banner are we waving?: exploring STEM partnerships for marginalized urban youth, unearthed the tensions that existed between a local community “expert” and a group of students and their facilitator in an afterschool program. Those of us who work with youth who are traditionally marginalized, understand the importance of teaching in culturally relevant ways, but far too often—as Ridgeway and Yerrick shared—community partners have beliefs, motives, and ideologies that are incompatible to the program’s mission and goals. Nevertheless, we often enter partnerships assuming that the other party understands the needs of the students or community; understands how in U.S. society White is normative while all others are deficient; and understands how to engage with students in culturally relevant ways. This forum addresses the underlying assumption, described in the Ridgeway and Yerrick article, that educators—despite their background and experiences—are able to teach in culturally relevant ways. Additionally, I assert based on the finding in the article that just as Ladson-Billings and Tate (Teach Coll Rec 97(1):47–68, 1995) asserted, race in the U.S. society, as a scholarly pursuit, was under theorized. The same is true of science education; race in science education is under theorized and the use of culturally relevant pedagogy and critical race theory as a pedagogical model and analytical tool, respectively, in science education is minimal. The increased use of both would impact our understanding of who does science, and how to broaden participation among people of color.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Aikenhead, G. S. (1996). Science education: Border crossing into the subculture of science. Studies in Science Education, 27(1), 1–52. doi:10.1080/03057269608560077.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bell, D. A. (1980). Brown v. Board of education and interest convergence dilemma. Harvard Law Review, 93(3), 518–534.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bell, D. A. (1992a). Racial realism. Connecticut Law Review, 24(2), 363–379.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell, D. A. (1992b). Faces at the bottom of the well: The permanence of racism. New York, NY: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crenshaw, K. W. (1988). Race, reform, retrenchment: Transformation and legitimation in antidiscrimination law. Harvard Law Review, 101(7), 1331–1387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crenshaw, K. W. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989(1), 139–167.

    Google Scholar 

  • DeCuir, J. T., & Dixson, A. D. (2004). So when it comes out, they aren’t that surprised that it is there: Using critical race theory as a tool of analysis of race and racism in education. Educational Researcher, 33(5), 26–31. doi:10.3102/0013189X033005026.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Delgado, R. (1989). Storytelling for oppositionists and others: A plea for narrative. Michigan Law Review, 87, 2411–2422.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dixson, A. D., & Dodo Seriki, V. (2014). Intersectionality and pedagogy: Teachers and the quandary of race, class, and culturally relevant pedagogy. In A. D. Dixson (Ed.), Researching race in education: Policy, practice and qualitative research: Critical cultural studies series (pp. 185–218). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fasching-Varner, K., & Dodo Seriki, V. (2012). Moving beyond seeing with our eyes wide shut: A response to “There is no culturally responsive teaching spoken here.” Democracy and Education20(1), 5. Available at:

  • Harris, C. I. (1993). Whiteness as property. Harvard Law Review, 106(8), 1701–1791.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayes, C., & Juarez, B. (2012). There is no culturally responsive teaching spoken here: A critical race perspective. Democracy and Education, 20(1), 1. Available at:

  • Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally relevant pedagogy: Ingredients for critical teacher reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 195–202. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4203_5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ladson-Billings, G. (1994/2009). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

  • Ladson-Billings, G. J. (1999). Preparing teachers for diverse student populations: A critical race theory perspective. Review of Research in Education, 24, 211–247.

  • Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing over to Canaan: The journey of new teachers in diverse classrooms. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). Yes, but how do we do it? Practicing culturally relevant pedagogy. In J. Landsman & C. W. Lewis (Eds.), White teachers/diverse classrooms: A guide to building inclusive schools, promoting high expectations, and eliminating racism (pp. 29–42). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ladson-Billings, G. (2012). Getting serious about education: Cultivating culturally relevant teachers for new century students.

  • Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W. F. (1995). Toward a critical race theory of education. Teachers College Record, 97(1), 47–68.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lawrence-Lightfoot, S., & Davis, J. H. (1997). The art and science of portraiture. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mensah, F. M. (2009). Confronting assumptions, biases, and stereotypes in preservice teachers’ conceptualizations of science teaching through the use of book club. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(9), 1041–1066.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mensah, F. M. (2011). A case for culturally relevant teaching in science education and lessons learned for teacher education. The Journal of Negro Education, 80(3), 296–309.

    Google Scholar 

  • Parsons, E. R. C., Rhodes, B., & Brown, C. (2011). Unpacking the CRT in negotiating white science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 6(4), 951–960. doi:10.1007/s11422-011-9349-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vanessa Dodo Seriki.

Additional information

Lead Editor: F. M. Mensah.

This review essay addresses Ridgeway and Yerrick’s paper entitled: Whose banner are we waving: exploring STEM partnerships for marginalized urban youth. doi:10.1007/s11422-016-9773-1.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dodo Seriki, V. Advancing alternate tools: why science education needs CRP and CRT. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 13, 93–100 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Science education
  • Culturally relevant pedagogy
  • Critical race theory
  • Urban science
  • Teacher preparation