The Core Four Framework

antiracist education corefour culturally responsive teaching equityineducation liberatorylearning Apr 17, 2024

The Core Four framework is not just a methodology but a tool to develop a critical pedagogical stance on education and its role in social justice, equity and belonging. 

The Core Four Framework

In the landscape of education, especially in the context of the United States, the way we impart knowledge has often been scrutinized through a narrow lens, predominantly focused on the accumulation of facts and the development of cognitive skills. However, there's a burgeoning recognition that education can, and perhaps should, serve a larger purpose. The Core Four framework is pivotal in expanding this recognition. It is an interlocking structure composed of Power, Narrative, Lineage, and Embodiment. Each component intertwines with the others to form a comprehensive approach that encourages educators and learners to reckon with shared histories and to employ a critical lens on systems and structures.


The concept of Power within the Core Four invites an examination of who holds it, how it's distributed, and its manifestations in both oppression and liberation. Mariah Rankine Landers and Jessa Brie Moreno argue that transformative power should be at the core of pedagogy—a shift from a static, dominating force to a dynamic, equitable one that supports human growth and understanding beyond the superficial layers of ego.


Narratives shape our understanding of the world. They can bridge and connect people and ideas but also exclude, serving as vessels for perpetuating stereotypes or, conversely, for challenging them. In the context of education, the Core Four framework urges a move away from a single story or a narrow worldview, embracing instead a multiplicity of stories that reflect the diverse realities of all learners.


Lineage within the Core Four framework speaks to the importance of understanding our roots—both cultural and intellectual—and how these roots influence our present and future. Recognizing the strengths and limitations of those who came before us is integral to creating an educational approach that is culturally responsive and inclusive.


Embodiment is about the physical manifestation of our learning and beliefs. It's how knowledge and attitudes are expressed through our actions, practices, and the very energy we emit. Within the Core Four framework, embodiment becomes a gauge for understanding how deeply learning has permeated our being.

Practical Examples and Applications

A practical example of the Core Four in action might involve an educator who, recognizing the power dynamics at play in their classroom, chooses to decentralize their authority by employing student-led discussions. They might integrate a variety of narratives into the curriculum to ensure that all students see their experiences reflected in the material. Additionally, they might invite students to explore their own lineages, thereby acknowledging the expansiveness of histories and perspectives that each student brings into the room. Finally, embodiment could take the form of students engaging in projects that resonate with their identities and values, thereby demonstrating their learning in a manner that is authentic and personally meaningful.

Ultimately, the Core Four framework is a compass for educators, guiding them to not only achieve academic and social emotional outcomes but also to develop an understanding of individual worth and interconnectedness, which is at the heart of humanity. Through this framework, educators become facilitators of learning, guardians of love, and catalysts for transformative power, which can reshape both interpersonal relationships and the structural dynamics of society.

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