Culturally Relevant Teaching:
Teen Pregnancy and Multicultural Education

Culture is something that we are familiar with, and each of us have our own cultures that we identify with and relate to. This is also the case with our students; each student brings various cultural experiences and knowledge to the classroom. Caring teachers are culturally relevant teachers. Culturally relevant teaching is “an approach to instruction that responds to the sociocultural context and seeks to integrate the cultural context of the learner in shaping an effective learning environment” (Pang, 337). Culturally relevant teachers also serve as cultural mediators, by understanding the value systems of their students and acting to bridge the gap in situations when the behaviors and values of their students conflict with mainstream ideas. Culturally relevant teachers are also observant and aware of cultural context, are culturally literate, and use this to make their teaching more effective.

Culturally relevant teaching is especially important when teaching about teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy has recently become a staple in popular culture as it has been featured in movies, television shows, and magazine articles that are geared towards a high school aged audience. Teen pregnancy is something that happens across social and economic lines. How ever, it’s especially prominent in with African American and Hispanic girls which has created a disparity in unintended teen pregnancies.

According to the Guttmacher Institute’s “Report on U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity” published in 2010, unintended teen pregnancies have increased since 2006 across regional, social, ethnic, and economic lines. As the statistics show, unintended teen pregnancies were the highest among Black and Hispanic girls across the nation.

National levels by race and ethnicity:

• Among black women aged 15–19, the nationwide pregnancy rate fell by 45% (from 223.8 per
1,000 to 122.7) between 1990 and 2005, before increasing to 126.3 in 2006.

• Among non-Hispanic white teenagers, the pregnancy rate declined 50% in the same period
(from 86.6 per 1,000 to 43.3), before increasing to 44.0 in 2006.

• Among Hispanic teenagers (of any race), the pregnancy rate decreased by 26% (from 169.7 per
1,000 to 124.9) between 1992 and 2005, before rising to 126.6 in 2006.

• Among all racial and ethnic groups, the birthrate reversed its downward trend in 2006 for the
first time in more than a decade.



Teen_Birth_Rate.jpg
Graph from http://www.project.org/info.php?recordID=414
* The published report found at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf


This raises the question: Why are young Black and Hispanic girls more likely to have unintended teen pregnancies?

This is when being a culturally relevant teacher will be especially helpful. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and understanding that each student has certain values, beliefs, and knowledge about life will help you as a teacher be able to teach culturally complicated subjects such as teen pregnancy prevention.