Subtractive education refers to curriculum policies, processes, or practices that remove students' culture or language from classroom contexts as a resource for learning or as a source of personal affirmation. Subtractive education assumes that students' academic successes depend on the degree to which they give up their own cultures or linguistic practices or traditions to assimilate into mainstream culture, a process often referred to as “Americanization” in the United States.

In her landmark book, Subtractive Schooling, Angela Valenzuela demonstrated that academic achievement is a social process that emerges through the lived experiences of students as they negotiate the numerous social, cultural, historical, and linguistic relationships that define their lives both in and out of school. Increasingly, public school curricula are organized in ways that systematically remove, ...

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