Our article addresses the theoretical issue of how to characterize commonalities of learning approaches of individuals who are members of ethnic groups that historically have been underserved in US schools (e.g., African-American, Latino, and Native American students). We believe that a cultural-historical approach offers a way to get beyond a widespread assumption that characteristics of cultural groups are located within individuals as ‘carriers’ of culture – an assumption that creates problems, especially as research on cultural styles of ethnic (or racial) is applied in schools.1 In this article, after a brief discussion about how cultural styles research has helped the eld think of differences rather than decits, we use cultural-historical theory to revise the default assumption. Our chapter also presses culturalhistorical research to make progress in characterizing commonalities in the variations across individuals and groups.