Honoring history, cultivating genius

By Tanji Reed Marshall and Suzanne Bouffard
Categories: Equity, Leadership, System leadership
December 2021
Gholnecsar (Gholdy) Muhammad is a leading voice for equity, anti-racism, and culturally and historically responsive teaching. A former teacher and school district curriculum director, she now researches and consults with school, district, and state leaders to implement culturally and historically responsive teaching. Her framework of historically responsive literacy is outlined in her book, Cultivating Genius (Scholastic, 2020). The historically responsive literacy framework examines teaching strategies and structures that honor the histories, identities, and literary practices of all youth from diverse cultures, and especially those who have been traditionally underserved in schools. The framework builds on other work on culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies and is grounded in the history of Black literary societies, a rich source of education and intellectual pursuit led by Black scholars

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The 5 pursuits of historically responsive teaching

Muhammad identifies five pursuits, or learning goals, from the history of Black literary societies. These five pursuits guide Muhammad’s framework of culturally and historically responsive teaching.

Identity: Teaching students to know themselves and others.

Skills: Teaching students the proficiencies needed across content areas.

Intellectualism: Teaching students new knowledge.

Criticality: Teaching students to understand and disrupt oppression (hurt, pain, and harm within self and the world).

Joy: Teaching students about the beauty and truth in humanity.

Source: Muhammad, G. (2021). 12 questions to ask when designing culturally and historically responsive curriculum. AMLE.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Tanji-reed-marshall-127x159-1
Director of P-12 Practice at The Education Trust | + posts

Tanji Reed Marshall ( is director of p-12 practice at The Education Trust and a guest editor for this issue of The Learning Professional.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Suzanne-bouffard
Senior Vice President, Communications & Publications | + posts

Suzanne Bouffard is senior vice president of communications and publications at Learning Forward. She is the editor of The Learning Professional, Learning Forward’s flagship publication. She also contributes to the Learning Forward blog and webinars. With a background in child development, she has a passion for making research and best practices accessible to educators, policymakers, and families. She has written for many national publications including The New York Times and the Atlantic, and previously worked as a writer and researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Duke University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. She loves working with authors to help them develop their ideas and voices for publication.

Categories: Equity, Leadership, System leadership

The Learning Professional

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