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Winner of an American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award and Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book Award, and voted one of Teacher Magazine’s “great books,” Other People’s Children has sold over 150,000 copies since its original hardcover publication. This anniversary paperback edition features a new introduction by Delpit as well as new framing es Winner of an American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award and Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book Award, and voted one of Teacher Magazine’s “great books,” Other People’s Children has sold over 150,000 copies since its original hardcover publication. This anniversary paperback edition features a new introduction by Delpit as well as new framing essays by Herbert Kohl and Charles Payne. In a radical analysis of contemporary classrooms, MacArthur Award–winning author Lisa Delpit develops ideas about ways teachers can be better “cultural transmitters” in the classroom, where prejudice, stereotypes, and cultural assumptions breed ineffective education. Delpit suggests that many academic problems attributed to children of color are actually the result of miscommunication, as primarily white teachers and “other people’s children” struggle with the imbalance of power and the dynamics plaguing our system. A new classic among educators, Other People’s Children is a must-read for teachers, administrators, and parents striving to improve the quality of America’s education system.


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Winner of an American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award and Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book Award, and voted one of Teacher Magazine’s “great books,” Other People’s Children has sold over 150,000 copies since its original hardcover publication. This anniversary paperback edition features a new introduction by Delpit as well as new framing es Winner of an American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award and Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book Award, and voted one of Teacher Magazine’s “great books,” Other People’s Children has sold over 150,000 copies since its original hardcover publication. This anniversary paperback edition features a new introduction by Delpit as well as new framing essays by Herbert Kohl and Charles Payne. In a radical analysis of contemporary classrooms, MacArthur Award–winning author Lisa Delpit develops ideas about ways teachers can be better “cultural transmitters” in the classroom, where prejudice, stereotypes, and cultural assumptions breed ineffective education. Delpit suggests that many academic problems attributed to children of color are actually the result of miscommunication, as primarily white teachers and “other people’s children” struggle with the imbalance of power and the dynamics plaguing our system. A new classic among educators, Other People’s Children is a must-read for teachers, administrators, and parents striving to improve the quality of America’s education system.

30 review for Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    This book is based on a series of research papers written by Delpit and she makes it clear that the first two chapters have proven controversial over the years. This is interesting, because it is likely that these chapters remain just as controversial today. There is a really useful divide in the theory involving teaching children to read, with right-wing types likely to stress the importance of skills-based methods of instruction, while left-wing types are likely to stress the reader’s construct This book is based on a series of research papers written by Delpit and she makes it clear that the first two chapters have proven controversial over the years. This is interesting, because it is likely that these chapters remain just as controversial today. There is a really useful divide in the theory involving teaching children to read, with right-wing types likely to stress the importance of skills-based methods of instruction, while left-wing types are likely to stress the reader’s construction of meaning as the best way to learn to read. This often comes down to what is referred to as either whole-language on phonics. Delpit presents an interesting twist on this. Her point is that when many well-meaning people are trying to teach young black children to read, ideology can get in the way – whether right or left-wing ideology – while what is actually needed is a focus on what works. Now, the problem with trying to simplify her ideas is that I’ve immediately gone too far. This isn't at all just a 'let's see what works and do that' sort of book. Her work is based on theory - but her point remains - simpleminded applications of ideology do not help children of colour learn how to read. The theory she proposes is similar to Freire's idea of teach the world as you teach the word to me. It is not that you can get away with not teaching the 'word' if you teach the world - rather, you need to teach both and to do so at the same time. This brings us to what might be understood as the other 'problem' with her theory – one that I think many people would probably get upset with her over. For a long time people on the left have been concerned with what are called 'deficit models of education' for disadvantaged groups. One of the standard versions of this relates to Bernstein's theories, particularly around his ideas of linguistic codes. The short version is that Bernstein did research in the 1960's looking into how the speech acts of middle and working class children differed. He found that the middle class kids spoke like 'books', while you really had to be standing beside the working class kids to understand what they were talking about. The middle class kids had two linguistic codes they could rely on - a concrete one (just as the working class kids had) for when they were talking with those immediately around them - and a more universal one for when they were talking to the teacher or when they need to speak to people in authority. This second code is particularly prized at school and it therefore gives middle class children an advantage over their working class peers, particularly in the classroom. The solution seemed simple. All you needed to do, to make the world a more equal place, was to give working class the same access to this universal linguistic code they lacked. That is, the working class kids have a deficit and so if overcome that deficit everything will be great. Bernstein nether actually said this, as far as I can tell, but many of his followers certainly acted as if he had. The problem is that this type of deficit idea seems to imply that black or working class children are stupid - and that was certainly never Bernstein's belief. This often meant that programs were developed to teach the children lacking these skills as if they really were stupid. One of the great things about people is that they really do know when they are being patronised. Which means that too often when people are trying to teach people the 'language of power' what actually happens is that the people being tuught feel as if they are being made fun of – or disrespected at least – and that does as much to stop them from learning as anything else you can think of. Delpit's point is that you need to not only teach the highly prized language - but to do so in ways that respect their linguistic codes at the same time. There is a lovely bit here where a teacher comes into a room only to find her students impersonating her language. That is, doing exactly what she had been trying to teach them to do, although, without the irony, but to which they had been actively resisting for months. This is also true of second language learning. If you can rely on the resources you have from you first language and to then build on that, then learning a second language is much easier. But if you have never been allowed to consolidate your first language, then learning a second one is almost impossible. And yet, this is exactly what we do in schools all of the time. In the USA, for instance, children whose first language is Spanish are not taught Spanish in schools. Rather, they are taught in English, often a language they do not understand. But the tragedy of this is that it means that they don't know enough of Spanish to help them learn English. With two languages known imperfectly, they have no resources to help them learn. The same goes for working class children or children of colour. Because their linguistic codes are totally devalued by the schools they attend, so much so that they are effectively taught to shun their own linguistic codes, they are taught that what is most central to them as humans, their ability to communicate, is flawed. But without their own linguistic code being prized I'm the classroom, they effectively have nothing to use to help them learn the highly prized code. And it gets worse everyone they love speaks the linguistic code that the school is telling them is worthless. If you ever needed a reason to reject learning – then being told you and everyone you love is worthless would be as good a reason to reject that education as I can think of. Delpit is certainly not saying that we should not teach the highly prized 'language of power'. Quite the opposite. She is also not saying that children of black or working class parents can get by with their own 'quaint’ linguistic codes. Gaining access to the language of power gives access to power itself. But that does not have to come at the price of the rejection of the value of your own language. Just as Spanish speaking children should not have to lose their first language so as tolerant to speak English and that in fact they will learn English better and more quickly the better their Spanish, so too with working class children. This isn't deficit learning. It is learning. To learn any new language necessarily means having to learn the skills associated with that language. But if learning is to occur it needs to happen in a way that leaves the child with their self and community respect intact.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Toriamae

    I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book when I first started reading it. It seemed the author was way into race issues in a way that would make me feel guilty as a white woman who has chosen to work with ethnic and linguistic minority communities. But Delpit's message is not one of hate or hopelessness. The bottom line is that everyone can learn, bias exists and that thoughtful teachers should go to whatever means necessary to educate their students, teaching them to be successful in main I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book when I first started reading it. It seemed the author was way into race issues in a way that would make me feel guilty as a white woman who has chosen to work with ethnic and linguistic minority communities. But Delpit's message is not one of hate or hopelessness. The bottom line is that everyone can learn, bias exists and that thoughtful teachers should go to whatever means necessary to educate their students, teaching them to be successful in mainstream America. She advocates neither rejecting home language or dialect nor teaching it exclusively. Rather, she asserts, students must learn the tools and skills that are necessary for success in modern America, namely standard English. Teaching standard English and language skills requires different things for different students. Teachers should not be surprised if those who do not already have skills in standard English require more than a self-discovery or process approach to learning. I for one appreciate Delpit's perspective and the high expectations she sets for all students.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    I despised this book. It's a bitter, vitriolic, insensitive, racist, unsourced, and highly paranoid attack on liberal white educators. The book is literally a practice in reverse prejudice. Incredibly, Delpit's argument is one I agree with: that students should be taught Standard English (as opposed to African American Vernacular English) because the gatekeepers who are likely to decide students' futures (such as employers, interviewers, college admissions boards, and the like) tend to hold vari I despised this book. It's a bitter, vitriolic, insensitive, racist, unsourced, and highly paranoid attack on liberal white educators. The book is literally a practice in reverse prejudice. Incredibly, Delpit's argument is one I agree with: that students should be taught Standard English (as opposed to African American Vernacular English) because the gatekeepers who are likely to decide students' futures (such as employers, interviewers, college admissions boards, and the like) tend to hold variant English dialects against would-be applicants. However, Delpit delivers the point in such a way that it turns me off almost immediately. I was variously enraged and disgusted by reading this book. Delpit makes some incredibly ridiculous claims, such as 'black people do not trust statistics,' and her main argument seems to be "white educators should trust my ancedotes over decades of scientific study, because I am black." It must be noted that Delpit grew up in a very volatile time-period; I assume she attended school under the black cloud of racist opposition to desegregation, and so it makes perfect sense that she (and a cadre of black educators like her) are still stuck in the anti-majoritarian mindset of that time period. However, she does herself no favors with her blatant and unfair attacks against all Caucasian educators. Repeatedly she suggests that white liberals are too scared to use authority in the classroom, and that they are too wimpy to properly teach African American children (who Delpit treats as if they are a species apart, and so require different teaching methods as compared to all other racial groups). She encourages her students to distrust and be suspicious of white Americans, and argues very early in the book that teachers who disagree with her (that is, those that permit the use of AAVE in speech and writing, as long as a proper point is communicated) likely only feel this way as a means to protect high-status jobs. She literally says, though the use of an anonymous teacher source's ruminations, that white teachers want their own kids to have all the good jobs, and so they actively work to keep black kids in the gutter. It's bombastic and absurd. She also attacks statistics, research, and science repeatedly throughout the work; but even so, countless times she makes statements like 'studies have shown,' followed by a completely outlandish belief. Every time she does this, it lacks a reference or any details about the study. All information as to where she got her "facts" is absent from the text. In short, I hated this book, and found it absolutely useless. I'd rather read the Bible.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janae

    This is an excellent book to read if you're White and teaching in an urban school (or if you're Black and are searching for validation for beliefs that have met opposition). Here are some quotes/tidbits to give the gist of the book: In response to whether or not students should be taught Standard English, many parents share these sentiments: "My kids know how to be black - you all teach them how to be successful in the white mans' world." "Teachers do students no service to suggest, even implici This is an excellent book to read if you're White and teaching in an urban school (or if you're Black and are searching for validation for beliefs that have met opposition). Here are some quotes/tidbits to give the gist of the book: In response to whether or not students should be taught Standard English, many parents share these sentiments: "My kids know how to be black - you all teach them how to be successful in the white mans' world." "Teachers do students no service to suggest, even implicitly, that 'product' is not important. In this country, students will be judged on their product regardless of the process they utilized to achieve it." "The teacher cannot be the only expert in the classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to disempower them." "We must keep the perspective that people are experts on their own lives." Therefore, before you say, "These parents just don't know how to parent" ask them where they are coming from. Seek to understand. It will make a lot more sense.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This would never be a book that I would consider recommending for gaining deeper insights into teaching children of color. I hoped to feel I had an edge to share with my teachers in dealing with and teaching children who come from culturally diverse backgrounds. Instead, I felt scolded and preached to and was unconvinced that even the author has ideas of how to best help, teach and reach our disadvantaged minorities. I concur with her last essay, that we need to value and celebrate the heritage This would never be a book that I would consider recommending for gaining deeper insights into teaching children of color. I hoped to feel I had an edge to share with my teachers in dealing with and teaching children who come from culturally diverse backgrounds. Instead, I felt scolded and preached to and was unconvinced that even the author has ideas of how to best help, teach and reach our disadvantaged minorities. I concur with her last essay, that we need to value and celebrate the heritage of all children. However, beyond that, she offers little to help us close the achievement gap and improve the classroom management that plagues our schools nationwide.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    Some things of note from this book: "That, I believe, is what we need to bring to our schools: experiences that are so full of the wonder of life, so full of connectedness, so embedded in the context of our communities, so brilliant in the insights that we develop and the analysis that we devise, that all of us, teachers and students alike, can learn to live lives that leave us truly satisfied." p104 What can teachers do? p 163-165 1. Acknowledge and validate students' home language without using i Some things of note from this book: "That, I believe, is what we need to bring to our schools: experiences that are so full of the wonder of life, so full of connectedness, so embedded in the context of our communities, so brilliant in the insights that we develop and the analysis that we devise, that all of us, teachers and students alike, can learn to live lives that leave us truly satisfied." p104 What can teachers do? p 163-165 1. Acknowledge and validate students' home language without using it to limit students' potential. 2. Recognize conflict between students' home discourses and the discourse of school. 3. Acknowledge the unfair "discourse-stacking" that our society engages in. And importantly, it seemed that she was saying that to teach all students well, we must know them and if possible, know and utilize their families as resources - valuing their input.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Abbi Dion

    Focused, honest, insightful and challenging. I took the time to type a few standout moments: We have given up the rich meaningful education of our children in favor of narrow, decontextualized, meaningless procedures that leave unopened hearts, unformed character, and unchallenged minds. xiv The reductionism spawned has created settings in which teachers and students are treated as nonthinking objects to be manipulated and “managed.” xv Were we focused on our children as inheritors of the future, p Focused, honest, insightful and challenging. I took the time to type a few standout moments: We have given up the rich meaningful education of our children in favor of narrow, decontextualized, meaningless procedures that leave unopened hearts, unformed character, and unchallenged minds. xiv The reductionism spawned has created settings in which teachers and students are treated as nonthinking objects to be manipulated and “managed.” xv Were we focused on our children as inheritors of the future, perhaps we could be more deliberate in teaching them the traits they need to become protectors of the earth and all of its inhabitants. xvi Poor people and people of color are clearly in trouble in this country. And this means that we as a country are in trouble. Our “trouble” cannot be resolved by the creation and administration of standardized tests. Our “trouble” cannot be resolved by “teacher-proof” curricula. The troubles of our country – indeed, the troubles of our world – can be addressed only if we help ourselves and our children touch the deep humanity of our collective spirit and regain the deep respect for the earth that spawned us. xviii But we cannot blame the schools alone. We live in a society that nurtures and maintains stereotypes: we are all bombarded daily, for instance, with the portrayal of the young black male as monster. xxiii What should we be doing? The answers, I believe, lie not in a proliferation of new reform programs but in some basic understandings of who we are and how we are connected to and disconnected from one another. xxv The worldviews of those with privileged positions are taken as the only reality, while the worldviews of those less powerful are dismissed as inconsequential. Indeed, in the educational institutions of this country, the possibilities for poor people and for people of color to define themselves, to determine the self each should be, involve a power that lies outside of the self. It is others who determine how they should act, how they are to be judged. xxv Which I hope will interest people concerned with the improvement of education for those least well served by the public education system in this country. xxvii Liberation for poor kids and linguistic minorities starts with accepting their culture and language and helping them to build on it. page 9 I also learned that people learn to write not by being taught “skills” and grammar, but by “writing in meaningful contexts.” Page 12 It is time to look closely at elements of our educational system, particularly those elements we consider progressive; time to see whether there is minority involvement and support, and if not, to ask why; time to reassess what we are doing in public schools and universities to include other voices, other experiences; time to seek the diversity in our educational movements that we talk about seeking in our classrooms. Page 20 Those with power are frequently least aware – or least wiling to acknowledge – its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence. Page 24 This meant that the child who did not come to school already primed with what was to be presented would be labeled as needing “remedial” instruction from day one; indeed, this determination would be made before he or she was ever taught. Page 30 The authoritative teacher can control the class through exhibition of personal power; establishes meaningful interpersonal relationships that garner student respect; exhibits a strong belief that all students can learn; establishes a standard of achievement and “pushes” the students to achieve that standard; and holds the attention of the students by incorporating interactional features of black communicative style in his or her teaching. Page 35-36 I also do not believe we should teach students to passively adopt an alternate code. They must be encouraged to understand the value of the code they already possess as well as to understand the power realities in this country. Page 40 To do so takes a very special kind of listening, listening that requires not only open eyes and ears, but open hearts and minds. We do not really see through our eyes or hear through our ears, but through our beliefs. To put our beliefs on hold is to cease to exist as ourselves for a moment – and that is not easy. It is painful as well, because it means turning yourself inside out, giving up your own sense of who you are, and being wiling to see yourself in the unflattering light of another’s angry gaze. It is not easy but it is the only way to learn what it might feel like to be someone else and the only way to start the dialogue. Page 46-47 Teachers are in an ideal position to play this role, to attempt to get all of the issues on the table in order to initiate true dialogue. This can only be done, however, by seeking out those whose perspectives may differ most, by learning to give their words complete attention, by understanding one’s own power, even if that power stems merely from being in the majority, by being unafraid to raise questions about discrimination and voicelessness with people of color, and to listen, no, to hear what they say. I suggest that the results of such interactions may be the most powerful and empowering coalescence yet seen in the educational realm – for all teachers and for all the students they teach. Page 47 Forcing speakers to monitor their language for rules while speaking, typically produces silence. Page 51 Teachers need to support he language that students bring to school, provide them input from an additional code, and give them the opportunity to use the new code in a nonthreatening, real communicative context. Page 53 Robert Berdan’s Atlantis Experiment. Page 60 Some youngsters may become more engaged in school tasks when the language of those tasks is posed in real-life contexts than when they are viewed as merely decontextualized problem completion. Since our long-term goal is producing young people who are able to think critically and creatively in real problem-solving contexts, the instructional –and linguistic – implications should be evident. Page 66 One of the most difficult tasks we face as human beings is communicating meaning across our individual differences, a task confounded immeasurably when we attempt to communicate across social lines, racial lines, cultural lines, or lines of unequal power. Yet, all U.S. demographic data points to a society becoming increasingly diverse, and that diversity is nowhere more evident than in our schools […] We can continue to view diversity as a problem […] Or we can recognize that diversity of thought, language, and worldview in our classrooms cannot only provide an exciting educational setting, but can also prepare our children for the richness of living in an increasingly diverse national community. Page 66-67 My experiences in these geographically diverse settings were some of the most important of my life. I was very much the “other”: I had no opportunity to see myself reflected in those around me. Under such circumstances, one learns to see much more clearly the assumptions one makes about the world, and to see that they are just that – assumptions. Some people in similar circumstances, I have discovered, hold on to their worldview with great tenacity, insisting that all of the others are wrong, peculiar, undeveloped, heathen, or uncivilized. I found that my survival depended on my being willing and able to learn from my new acquaintances and my new setting, to see the world through other eyes. Page 74 The worldviews of many in our society exist in protected cocoons […] their public lives and the institutions they have encountered merely reflect a “reality” these individuals have been schooled in since birth. When these privileged individuals – and they are privileged, whether they realize it or not – see others who operate from a different worldview, they can often comprehend them only as deviants, pathologically inferior, certainly in need of “fixing.” Even when individuals believe themselves to have good intentions, their own biases blind them from seeing the real people before them. Those who have been on the receiving end of such biases understand them well […] Listening to the stories of these women and men has made me even more sensitive to the ways in which most institutions in our society are created to reflect the realities of a particular cultural group – mainly the white, academically oriented middle class. Their stories have contributed, as well, to molding my views about what is needed to expand our educational vision to embrace the diversity that is this country’s reality. Page 74-75 “It is important to teach our children to read and write, but it is more important to teach them to be proud of themselves, and of us.” – Letter from a Parent. Page 89 Academic education was fine and to be desired, but what really concerned them was social and moral education – the education that trains youngsters to become good people, who care about, participate in, and are proud of their communities. Page 89 There is never a guarantee that a particular language or educational policy will “work,” but when that policy reflects the goals of the people it is to affect rather than those of either foreign missionaries or a colonial government, and when it reaffirms rather than negates a people’s knowledge of its culture and heritage, then there is no better prospect for its success. Page 90 Traditional bastions of academe distance people from one another as they create power relationships whereby one group maintains the power to “name” the other. They decontextualize people as their research subjects are scrutinized and analyzed outside of their own lives. Page 91 I realize that I am an organic part of all that is, and learn to adopt a receptive, connected stance, then I need not take an active, dominant role to understand; the universe will, in essence, include me in understanding. Page 92 We children in our segregated schools were constantly admonished about being proper “representatives of the race.” The white population saw us as one undifferentiated mass, and so, perhaps, we learned to see each other that way as well. Page 93 In education, we set about solving problems as if they exist in a vacuum. We isolate the problem and seek a technical solution. Page 93 The CON (meaning, “with,”) in context […] The “modern consciousness,” […] inevitably moves us toward a focus on “text” rather than on “context,” on words rather than on all the phenomena surrounding the words. Page 96-97 The context of a message is at least as important as, and often more important than the text of the message. Page 97 What’s interesting to me is the frequency with which the Anglo teacher’s words do not match his actions: he frequently directs the children to do something while he is physically engaged in a completely different task himself. For example, he says, “copy the words from the board” while he is away from the blackboard looking through his desk for something or other. The Native teacher, by contrast, almost always matched her words with her actions: if she says, “copy the words,” she is at the blackboard pointing. The Anglo teacher asks that children attend to what he says, not what he does; the Native American teacher, on the other hand, supports her words in a related physical context. What gets done is at least as important as what gets said. […] in truth he may well be unconsciously preparing children for their future schooling where they will be expected to attend to the words and not the surrounding context. Page 99 GREAT teacher example. Page 99 The Scollons discuss how much of what just seems ordinary to academically oriented parents is really training children to respond to the world in very specific ways. While these modes may be reinforced in school, they are foreign to many children growing up in families not part of an academic culture. Page 100 When children who have been brought up to trust their own observations enter school, they confront teachers, who, in their estimation, act as unbelievable tyrants. From the child’s perspective, their teachers attempt to coerce behavior […] Despite the rhetoric of American education, it does not teach children to be independent, but rather to be dependent on external sources for direction, for truth, for meaning. It trains children both to seek meaning solely from the text and to seek truth outside of their own good sense. Page 101-102 Era of Doublespeak. Page 102 Learning solely through the decontextualized word, particularly learning something that was so much a part of their home culture, was simply too foreign for the children to grasp without careful instruction about how to make the transition. Page 103 I have carried around the question of that child and that teacher for many years. Why do we have such a hard time making school a happy place for poor children and children of color? Page 104 Negative attitudes in the university appear to be expressed in two ways: directly toward the student, and/or more generally toward the student’s cultural group. This bias can be classified, according to Benokraitis and Feagin’s scheme of discrimination, as “overt,” (most blatant) “covert” (clandestine, maliciously motivated), and “subtle” (unequal treatment that is visible but so internalized as to be considered routine in bureaucratized settings). Page 113 “I guess that is one way for a dominant culture to maintain dominance – not to recognize any of the strengths of another group.” Page 114-115 Racial discrimination in present-day America is less likely to be the overt, blatant bigotry of the past. […] Despite change in the stated beliefs of the white population, recent studies depict their actions as reflecting other values. Researchers have found that the reactions of whites to people of color display subtle discriminatory behavior: less assistance, greater aggression, overt friendliness coupled with covert rejection, avoidance, and assessment inconsistent with actual work performance. Furthermore, whites are seldom conscious of this “modern prejudice,” even as they practice it. Page 115 “Consequently many whites remain unconvinced of the reality of subtle prejudice and discrimination, and come to think of their black coworkers as “terribly touchy” and “overly sensitive” to the issue.” Page 116 Good Teachers. Page 118 Teaching is all about telling a story. You have to get to know kids so you’ll know how to tell the story, you can’t tell it just one way. You can tell if you’re on the right track by watching the kids. Page 120 John Dewey advocated such a stance in 1904. In an article on the relationship between theory and practice in teacher education, he asserts that the “greatest asset in the student’s possession – the greatest, moreover that ever will be in his possession – [is] his own direct and personal experience.” Page 124 Dewey further advises that failure to allow students to explore their past experiences in light of theoretical constructs will produce only a mindless imitation of others’ practice rather that a reflection on teaching as an interactive process. Page 125 It is vitally important that connections be examined, that the education professor highlight the narratives of the students of color and ask them to serve as resources for bringing to the fore differences in worldview, learning style, social organization, language, and so forth. Page 126 The students of color may find their experiences both admissible and valued in the classroom, which, along with the increased opportunity for interaction, may help to reduce their feelings of isolation from the university and their white classmates and professors. Page 126 If we are to succeed in this quest, we must recognize and address the power differentials that exist in our society between schools and communities, between teachers and parents, between poor and well-to-do, between whites and people of color. Further, we must understand that our view of the world is but one of many, that others see things in other ways. Page 133 We all interpret behaviors, information, and situations through our own cultural lenses; these lenses operate involuntarily, below the level of conscious awareness, making it seem that our own view is simply “the way it is.” […] Engaging in the hard work of seeing the world as others see it must be a fundamental goal. Page 151 Knowledge about culture is but one tool that educators may make use of when devising solutions for a school’s difficulty in educating diverse children. Page 167 Children who may be gifted in real-life settings are often at a loss when asked to exhibit knowledge solely though decontextualized paper-and-pencil exercises. Page 173 If we do not have some knowledge of children’s lives outside of the realms of paper-and-pencil work, and even outside of their classrooms, then we cannot know their strengths. Not knowing students’ strengths leads to our “teaching down” to children from communities that are culturally different from that of the teachers in the school. Page 173 If we plan to survive as a species on this planet we must certainly create multicultural curricula that educate our children to the differing perspectives of our diverse population. Page 177 Were that not the case, these children would not talk about doing well in school as “acting white.” Our children of color need to see the brilliance of their legacy, too. Page 177 If we are to successfully educate all of our children, we must work to remove the blinders built of stereotypes, monocultural instructional methodologies, ignorance, social distance, biased research, and racism. We must work to destroy those blinders so that it is possible to really see, to really know the students we must teach. Page 182 REFLECTIONS “One of the educational conversations I always dream of having: no ego, no contest, just a consideration of schooling and how it affects children’s lives, combined with a lot of storytelling.” Herbert Kohl “I expect tears, arguments, denials, excuses, confessions, accusations, and whole range of displays of vulnerability, revenge, and strength […] Upon first reading OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN many white teachers take it as an attack on their capacity to teach students of color. […] Others believe their problems teaching African American students stem directly from the children’s families, neighborhoods, peers, and cultural environments. […] Most of all [Delpit] provides us with an occasion to reflect on ourselves as educators and as citizens living and working within a context where racism is pervasive and where, for many, hope is fading.” Herbert Kohl “They somehow go through $160K worth of schooling without learning to think self-reflexively, without learning to think of themselves as part of the problem. They have been taught to think of themselves as the objective analysts and other people as the problem.” Charles Payne “One of the privileges of being white in this country is that it largely insulates one from critical discussion.” Charles Payne “After a workshop on poverty and some honest reflection …” Patricia Lesesne “Through this communication, I realized that I was operating from a middle-class ethos with all of is trappings […] Instead of asking why a behavior exists and when it will stop, I began to ask how I could create a classroom setting that allows these students to thrive in a society run according to middle-class values while respecting their home cultures. […] Delpit challenges me to know myself and my limitations, know my students and their needs, and – through close, honest relationships rooted in mutual respect – come to know the values of the adults in the communities from which my students come to me.” Patricia Lesesne

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emily Waltman

    It feels almost sacrilegious to review "Other People's Children," which asks me to listen more than I speak, to understand more than I judge. I'll be brief, then. This book is so important it scares me. I feel obliged to actualize to Delpit's vision when teaching across difference, yet warier than ever of the challenges. I plan to return to OPC often, as a guide for rendering school pleasant and useful for every individual passing through my class. Tl;dr: Read this book! Read this book if you... It feels almost sacrilegious to review "Other People's Children," which asks me to listen more than I speak, to understand more than I judge. I'll be brief, then. This book is so important it scares me. I feel obliged to actualize to Delpit's vision when teaching across difference, yet warier than ever of the challenges. I plan to return to OPC often, as a guide for rendering school pleasant and useful for every individual passing through my class. Tl;dr: Read this book! Read this book if you... ...are a white teacher of students of color ...are any teacher of any students ...analyze academic research in your line of work ...live in a multicultural society ...live BONUS! A resonant quote in Charles M. Payne's review of this resonant book: "They could not get past the idea that being from Stanford or Yale gave them the right to lead; they could not get hold of the idea that people who hadn't been to high school were, as Lisa Delpit says in 'Other People's Children,' experts in their own lives."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Borges Folarin

    In her collection of essays, Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, MacArthur Award-winning author Dr. Lisa Delpit examines how everyday interactions in classrooms are laden with assumptions about the competencies, aptitudes and basic capabilities of low-income students and students of color. Through excerpts of conversations with educators, students and parents, Delpit explores ways in which educators can be better “cultural transmitters.” She proposes that many academic a In her collection of essays, Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, MacArthur Award-winning author Dr. Lisa Delpit examines how everyday interactions in classrooms are laden with assumptions about the competencies, aptitudes and basic capabilities of low-income students and students of color. Through excerpts of conversations with educators, students and parents, Delpit explores ways in which educators can be better “cultural transmitters.” She proposes that many academic and behavioral problems attributed to low-income students and students of color are actually the consequence of miscommunication between the mainly white educators and “other people’s children.” Delpit asserts that being an educator who is an efficient and effective cultural transmitter is important in the classroom because classrooms are where prejudice, stereotypes, and cultural assumptions lead to ineffective education. But Delpit also believes that cultural sensitivity, and valuing students’ language and culture alone is not enough; educators of “other people’s children” have a responsibility to give students the tools of the majority culture, even as they discuss openly with their students the reasons why they are doing so. This hard conversation about power imbalances in our society and its effect on students is typically avoided in schools. However, through Burgundy Farm Country Day School’s new Learning Community Group Professional Development system, some teachers were able to come together this summer and read this collection of essays. We began our discussion of these ideas at the Cove (our West Virginia campus) this fall, and now hope to share with the community what we’ve learned. This article is step one in that process. We hoped that it inspires you to read this book, and to join in our discussion about culture, language and power in schools.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    An eye-opener. A collection of essays by Delpit and others looking at the classroom from the minority (minority in many senses) perspectives. Through tales of Native Alaskan tribes, urban blacks, and minority student teachers, Delpit reminds teachers, parents, administrators, and students themselves about diverse upbringings and differences in linguistic cultural traditions that can easily be misunderstood in a school environment that is run by and which teaches the (white, professional) culture An eye-opener. A collection of essays by Delpit and others looking at the classroom from the minority (minority in many senses) perspectives. Through tales of Native Alaskan tribes, urban blacks, and minority student teachers, Delpit reminds teachers, parents, administrators, and students themselves about diverse upbringings and differences in linguistic cultural traditions that can easily be misunderstood in a school environment that is run by and which teaches the (white, professional) culture in power way of speaking/writing/learning/relating. Shook me up a little when she points out the flaws in the Graves & Co. writing workshop instructional methods when used as a blanket curriculum (because I had not yet taken a truly critical eye to it or any of my readings up til now). Writing workshop intentions are good, and it works for many, but probably not all. Some students who may already have the fluency and creativity of language still need the keys to the explicit grammar skills which are the keys for entering the culture of power. In the chapter where she discusses teacher education, some disheartening stories of potential teachers who gave up because they weren't being heard or felt they couldn't make a difference in a system where the prejudices are embedded, below the surface, and largely unacknowledged. Key is to listen (to really listen and understand, not just to hear, not just to gloss over their opinions, not just to refute with attitude) to and form relationships with the community, the parents, the people of color who understand the children and the students we are trying to reach.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel S

    “We all carry worlds in our heads, and those worlds are decidedly different. We educators set out to teach, but how can we reach the worlds of others when we don’t even know that they exist? Indeed, many of us don’t even realize that our own worlds exist only in our heads and in the cultural institutions we have built to support them.” [p.xxiv] “understanding other worlds, journeys that involved learning to see, albeit dimly, through the haze of my cultural lenses. In that blurred view, I have co “We all carry worlds in our heads, and those worlds are decidedly different. We educators set out to teach, but how can we reach the worlds of others when we don’t even know that they exist? Indeed, many of us don’t even realize that our own worlds exist only in our heads and in the cultural institutions we have built to support them.” [p.xxiv] “understanding other worlds, journeys that involved learning to see, albeit dimly, through the haze of my cultural lenses. In that blurred view, I have come to understand that power plays a critical role in our society and in our educational system. The worldviews of those with privileges positions are taken as the only reality, while the worldviews of those less powerful are dismissed as inconsequential. Indeed, in the educational institutions of this country, the possibilities for poor people and for people of color to define themselves, to determine the self each should be, involve a power that lies outside of the self.” It is others who determine how they should act, how they are to be judged.” [p.xxv] “when implicit codes are attempted across cultures, communication frequently breaks down. Each cultural group is left saying, “Why don’t those people say what they mean?” [p.25] “What the school personnel fail to understand is that if the parents were members of the culture of power and live by itself rules and codes, then they would transmit those does to their children. In fact, they transmit another culture that children must learn at home in order to survive in their communities.” [p.30] In this country, students will be judged on their product regardless of the process they utilized to achieve it. And that product, based as it is on the specific codes of a particular culture, in more readily produced when the directives of how to produce it are made explicit.” [p.31] “The teacher cannot be the only expert in the classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to disempower them.” [p.32] “there are different attitudes in different cultural groups about which characteristics make for a good teacher. Thus, it is impossible to create a model for the good teacher without taking issues of culture nd community context into account.” [p.37] “Now you may have interred that I believe that because there is a culture of power, everyone should learn the codes to participate in it, and that is how the world should be. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. I believe in a diversity of style, and I believe the world will be diminished if cultural diversity is ever obliterated…each cultural group should have the right to maintain its own language style. When I speak, therefore, of the culture of power, I don’t speak of how I wish things to be but of how they are.” [p.39] “to summarize, I suggest that students must be taught the codes needed to participate fully in the mainstream of American life, not by being forces to attend to hollow, inane, decontextualizes subskills, but rather within the context of meaningful communicative endeavors; that they must be allowed the resource of the teacher’s expert knowledge, while being helped to acknowledge their own “expertness” as well; and the even while students are assisted in learning the culture of power, they must also be helped to learn about the arbitrariness of those codes and about the power relationships they represent.” [p.45] “Educators must open themselves to, and allow themselves to be affected by, these alternative voices.” [p.46] “They understand the need for both approaches, the need to help students establish their own voices, and to coach those voices to produce notes that will be heard clearly in the larger society.” [p.46] “To do so takes a very special kind of listening, listening that requires not only open eyes and ears, but open hearts and minds. We do not really see through our eyes of hear through our ears, but through our beliefs. To put our beliefs on hold is to cease to exist as ourselves for a moment- and that is not easy. It is painful as well, because it means turning yourself inside out, giving up your own sense of who you are, and being willing to see yourself in the unflattering light of another’s gaze.” [p.46] “Teachers are in an ideal position to play this role, to attempt to get all of the issues on the table in order to initiate true dialogue. This can only be done, however, by seeking out those whose perspective may differ most, by learning to give their words complete attention, by understanding one’s own power, even if that power stems merely from being in the majority, by being unafraid to raise questions about discrimination and voicelessness with people of color, and to listen, no, the hear what they say.”[p.47] Thus, if teachers hope to avoid negatively stereotyping the language patterns of their students, it is important that they be encouraged to interact with, and willingly learn from, knowledgeable members of their students’ cultural groups. This can perhaps best become a reality if teacher education programs include diverse parents, community members, and faculty among those who prepare future teachers, and take seriously the need to develop in those teachers the humility required for learning from the surrounding context when entering a culturally different setting.” [p.56] “learning to see rather than merely look, to feel rather than touch, to hear rather than listen: to learn, in short about the world by being still and opening myself to experiencing it.” [p.92]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lianna Bessette

    Excellent. I wish I’d been assigned this book during my teacher training in college!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    I first ran across this wonderful research when I was working on my Master of Arts degree (I read an earlier edition). I was examining stereotypes regarding teachers' expectations and the Model Minority, based on the 1960's coverage in national US magazines proclaiming first-wave immigrants--i.e., Japanese- and Chinese- second and third generation Americans--to be people who had pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps without government aid. (The articles, published when the Civil Rights mo I first ran across this wonderful research when I was working on my Master of Arts degree (I read an earlier edition). I was examining stereotypes regarding teachers' expectations and the Model Minority, based on the 1960's coverage in national US magazines proclaiming first-wave immigrants--i.e., Japanese- and Chinese- second and third generation Americans--to be people who had pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps without government aid. (The articles, published when the Civil Rights movement was at a fevered pitch, was a back-handed compliment, because it inferred that African-Americans who were looking for affirmative action programs ought to do whatever it was that the Asian folks had done, and do it without government programs to help them do it). Delpit does a great job of breaking apart stereotypes. My favorite anecdote she relays is one in which an Asian child, a quiet little girl in a Montessori-type program, stands off to the side, away from the social chaos created by children who were sometimes off-task, and the teacher tells Delpit that this child is her "best student". Delpit moves back behind the child and observes her. The child has a variety of materials that she is supposed to sort to match the numbers on cards. Carefully, she pulls out her blocks, sticks, whatever, and sorts them each onto the cards. And almost all of the materials she sorts fail to match the numbers on the cards, but no one else sees that. Teachers tend to value studious behavior, and students who are not successful academically but also not noisy attention-magnets sometimes fall between the educational cracks.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny GB

    This is a good book for all educators to read, regardless of race. It really was an education to see the teaching styles and cultural styles of interaction that occur in different groups of people. While I resented that she claims that all white teachers don't really teach, but just stand there and expect students do the work I could get over that to learn from how other teachers work with minorities with directness and clear discipline. I know that showing emotion in the classroom and having ve This is a good book for all educators to read, regardless of race. It really was an education to see the teaching styles and cultural styles of interaction that occur in different groups of people. While I resented that she claims that all white teachers don't really teach, but just stand there and expect students do the work I could get over that to learn from how other teachers work with minorities with directness and clear discipline. I know that showing emotion in the classroom and having very clear discipline are difficult things for me to use, but I should consider that when I am teaching in a majority minority student school. She says many things that are in common with all teachers in all places such as our desire to help children and form personal connections with them. As in her more recent book, she really hammers on the point that students must be taught skills, but that they should have a context in which to use the skills and the skills should be useful ones. That is a shift that I am currently seeing in education. There is a desire for more problem solving and critical thinking to occur in the classrooms. I did not find Delpit's book racist or an attack on my race or culture. She seems to sincerely want changes made so that everyone is better educated, included, and understood. I wonder if I really have been less than honest when I claim that teaching is starting to make me colorblind, but this book and others help push me to continue to try to become a better teacher for my students.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    What does it mean to be a culturally competent teacher? How do issues of power in society show up in schools? In a collection of academic articles, Lisa Delpit explores how issues such as asserting authority, what makes a good teacher, appropriate language, and the importance of human connection and context vary across cultures. She advocates for teachers teaching ‘standard English’ and the unspoken rules of the dominant culture while encouraging students to think critically about power dynamics What does it mean to be a culturally competent teacher? How do issues of power in society show up in schools? In a collection of academic articles, Lisa Delpit explores how issues such as asserting authority, what makes a good teacher, appropriate language, and the importance of human connection and context vary across cultures. She advocates for teachers teaching ‘standard English’ and the unspoken rules of the dominant culture while encouraging students to think critically about power dynamics in society. She emphasizes how everyone should realize how our culture subconsciously influences how we see the world and the importance of white people listening to students and parents of color instead of assuming they know what is best for everyone. Finally, she suggests reforming teacher education to include students’ personal experience in classrooms, examples of schools where low-income students and students of color have succeeded instead of focusing on research linking achievement to income, and the historical accomplishments of people of color. As a white educator working with predominantly students of color, I need to learn and think more about these issues. I’m glad I read this book and I learned a lot, even if I’m not as motivated to read dense academic writing and it took me multiple summers to finish it ;-) I would be interested to know if Dr. Delpit thinks anything has changed in the 15 years since she wrote this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kb

    This book isn't so much an indictment of teachers and their practices as teacher education programs. This was published before The Skin that we Speak, so having read these two books in reverse order, it appears as if Delpit's ideas are becoming less refined, which of course isn't the case. In twenty years, I'm not sure if teaching programs are all that different from what Delpit describes in this book. One of her biggest critiques is the deficit mentality that is developed by increasingly White This book isn't so much an indictment of teachers and their practices as teacher education programs. This was published before The Skin that we Speak, so having read these two books in reverse order, it appears as if Delpit's ideas are becoming less refined, which of course isn't the case. In twenty years, I'm not sure if teaching programs are all that different from what Delpit describes in this book. One of her biggest critiques is the deficit mentality that is developed by increasingly White students in teacher educating programs. We are bombarded with information about underperformance of poor minorities and their lack of cultural capital to the point where it is so internalized that when we enter the classroom, we teach less because our expectations have been lowered so much. The irony of it all is that we should be doing the opposite because these students need more from schools than anyone. One major question I have for Delpit regarding both this and Skin that we Speak is how to approach older students. Most, if not all, of her examples come from the grade school level, which is arguably a more formative period as far as developing academic expectations and habits. At the secondary level, after years of practice at failure or close to it, what can one do to right the ship?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This book would be pretty dry for most people since it is a grad school book that one of the teachers I work with lent me. The main point of the book is that different cultures have different linguistic styles that often create a barrier between teachers and students, especially since the amount of "minority" children in city schools are growing while the amount of "minority" teachers is shrinking. The other main point is that minority children should learn how to read and write academically, or This book would be pretty dry for most people since it is a grad school book that one of the teachers I work with lent me. The main point of the book is that different cultures have different linguistic styles that often create a barrier between teachers and students, especially since the amount of "minority" children in city schools are growing while the amount of "minority" teachers is shrinking. The other main point is that minority children should learn how to read and write academically, or basically "white." While many well-intentioned liberal white teachers fear being "oppressive" or hindering a student's voice, what they don't realize is that they are preventing students from acquiring the skills they need to make it in the "white world" or to essentially "play the game." A successful teacher would be able to give affirmation to any given culture and its practices while simultaneously equipping students with appropriate skills to function in a larger discourse than just their home community or village. While this book practically hits you over the head with these philosophies, and can be a little heavy-handed at times, I still appreciated the insight that it offers into the realm of multicultural education.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Doug Crook

    I read this as part of a group and I was surprised by how many of my peers really didn't like this book. Personally, I found it to be a fantastic approach to a hard to discuss topic. It really confronted a lot of my viewpoints in a healthy way and made me think about how I would approach certain scenarios differently, especially in regards to the classroom environment. By far my favorite part of the book was how it used disparate articles to show that a classroom in Alaska can feel the same to s I read this as part of a group and I was surprised by how many of my peers really didn't like this book. Personally, I found it to be a fantastic approach to a hard to discuss topic. It really confronted a lot of my viewpoints in a healthy way and made me think about how I would approach certain scenarios differently, especially in regards to the classroom environment. By far my favorite part of the book was how it used disparate articles to show that a classroom in Alaska can feel the same to students as a classroom in Papua New Guinea if the students in either one feel like there's no point in being there. If the only prospect of an education is to be the best fish-farmer in the area then both scenarios become equally trivial. Perspectives like this are what made me really enjoy the book. The only complaint, which was shared by many in the class, is that the collection of articles offers a vast amount of insight into the problems but has almost no solutions. Quite a bit of inference needs to occur to implement any of this in the classroom but it is also a commentary on the idea that there is never going to be a one-size-fits-all approach to any of these issues.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    There is really not much to say for this book: it is simply one of the most interesting and useful books I read as a teacher, and I recommend it to everyone who is considering becoming an educator. Lisa Delpit doesn't shy away from plainly stating the issues that face students of all ages. People who grow up in different communities have different expectations and ideas about getting and giving respect. In order for a student to succeed, she or he needs to be able conversant in the language that There is really not much to say for this book: it is simply one of the most interesting and useful books I read as a teacher, and I recommend it to everyone who is considering becoming an educator. Lisa Delpit doesn't shy away from plainly stating the issues that face students of all ages. People who grow up in different communities have different expectations and ideas about getting and giving respect. In order for a student to succeed, she or he needs to be able conversant in the language that is used by the dominant culture (if that's who is influencing the school). There's nothing wrong with helping students consciously acquire this knowledge; there's nothing wrong with teachers from the dominant culture admitting that they come from a place of privilege; there's nothing wrong with all of us meeting on common ground and hashing out a way we can all understand each other and get on with the work of building a stronger community.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Danni Green

    The author's other book, Multiplication is for White People, was recommended to me recently, and when I looked that one up, I discovered she had written this book first, so I decided to read this before I read that one. This book is SO IMPORTANT; I'm usually loath to use words like "essential" or "required" in my book reviews, but if racial justice and/or education are important to you, I think you'll want to read this book. It really illuminates many of the specific ways that racial inequities The author's other book, Multiplication is for White People, was recommended to me recently, and when I looked that one up, I discovered she had written this book first, so I decided to read this before I read that one. This book is SO IMPORTANT; I'm usually loath to use words like "essential" or "required" in my book reviews, but if racial justice and/or education are important to you, I think you'll want to read this book. It really illuminates many of the specific ways that racial inequities (and in some cases, other forms of oppression) harm students, as well as giving concrete examples of things that can be done (and are being done) to improve things in classrooms, centering the voices and work of people of color (including both students and educators). I highly, highly recommend this.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liz Murray

    An incredible book. A must-read for any teacher anywhere. Lisa Delpit draws on personal experience to put forward her ideas regarding culturally responsive pedagogy. I didn't find anything she said controversial, simply humanistic. Neither did I find her preachy. Her comments stand on their own. Lisa Delpit confirmed many things that I intuitively felt. As a white teacher I was struck by her comments regarding white teachers feeling they needed to hold back in order to be culturally sensitive. E An incredible book. A must-read for any teacher anywhere. Lisa Delpit draws on personal experience to put forward her ideas regarding culturally responsive pedagogy. I didn't find anything she said controversial, simply humanistic. Neither did I find her preachy. Her comments stand on their own. Lisa Delpit confirmed many things that I intuitively felt. As a white teacher I was struck by her comments regarding white teachers feeling they needed to hold back in order to be culturally sensitive. Educators need to be aware of hegemonic practice in order for students (and teachers) to effectively question and change the status quo. I'm sure I'll be using this book as an educational tool, along with works by Freire and hooks as long as I'm teaching.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    This book is about how students from minority backgrounds are failed by teachers with little understanding about different cultures. Little was shared about ways to address this issue, but it did open my eyes to the subtleties of racism.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Land

    Wow, I can’t say enough good things about this book! The first section, Controversies Revisited, was a little challenging for me to get through as a reader. But every section after that and each article after that were brimming with such hope! The margins of this book for me are filled with notes on how I’ve seen this in my experience, questions/challenges for myself, and teaching strategies/activities that came to mind as I was reading. This will be a book I revisit through the years and should Wow, I can’t say enough good things about this book! The first section, Controversies Revisited, was a little challenging for me to get through as a reader. But every section after that and each article after that were brimming with such hope! The margins of this book for me are filled with notes on how I’ve seen this in my experience, questions/challenges for myself, and teaching strategies/activities that came to mind as I was reading. This will be a book I revisit through the years and should be required reading for teachers! It’s already positively impacted my pedagogy!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Connor Oswald

    Fantastic book. I wish I had read it earlier in my teaching career.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex Gordon

    "In any discussion of education and culture, it is important to remember that children are individuals and cannot be made to fit into any preconceived mold of how they are 'supposed' to act." Diverse classrooms means diverse dialects, cultural understandings, interaction styles, values, backgrounds, needs, etc. Really great book; made me think. Full of anecdotes, some of which are upsetting, but ultimately an inspiring read. Great teachers put in the work to understand who their students are as "In any discussion of education and culture, it is important to remember that children are individuals and cannot be made to fit into any preconceived mold of how they are 'supposed' to act." Diverse classrooms means diverse dialects, cultural understandings, interaction styles, values, backgrounds, needs, etc. Really great book; made me think. Full of anecdotes, some of which are upsetting, but ultimately an inspiring read. Great teachers put in the work to understand who their students are as humans and members of a community. Importantly, teachers of students of differing ethnic groups+backgrounds must communicate with, and uphold the perspectives of, people from the those ethnic groups+backgrounds (parents, teachers, children themselves).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tippy Jackson

    This book basically sums up my experiences and philosophy regarding education in diverse classrooms. It was so validating to hear that so many people have reached the same conclusions I have and had the same issues. This is a collection of essays, so there is a little repetition, but it's not bad. There is a chapter describing the isolation and difficulty teachers of color have in being heard by their colleagues. The chapter is called "The Silenced Dialogue." I had to laugh when I read some of t This book basically sums up my experiences and philosophy regarding education in diverse classrooms. It was so validating to hear that so many people have reached the same conclusions I have and had the same issues. This is a collection of essays, so there is a little repetition, but it's not bad. There is a chapter describing the isolation and difficulty teachers of color have in being heard by their colleagues. The chapter is called "The Silenced Dialogue." I had to laugh when I read some of the reviews for this book because they are exactly illustrating her point! They clearly aren't hearing what she's actually saying. Some reviews say she leaves out white teachers or implies that white teachers can't do anything. But she clearly gives many, many examples of white teachers implementing fantastic culturally sensitive classroom techniques. Some say that she offers no solutions, only problems. Yet every chapter offers some solutions. From pairing student teachers with mentors to help prevent the feeling of isolation, to hiring a more diverse workforce, to making sure you're giving explicit directions to students, to details of how you can teach students standard english while not devaluing their linguistic differences from home, to educating yourself about the cultural history of your students as well as learning from their communities and families. If you walked away from this book without at least one new idea, there's just no helping you. One review actually complained that it didn't provide information on how to "deal with" diverse students and problems in classroom management. If you're looking for some easy "tricks" for "dealing with" students, this isn't the book for you. She does talk about how a teacher's lack of cultural awareness can impact the classroom environment, and in particular, there's a wonderful section on how students might have a lack of respect for their teachers because respect is given/viewed differently in different cultures (I had this realization years ago and its something I've seen causing problems for many educators and their students.) Some cultural backgrounds require you to earn respect- it's not just given to you because you have a title. I suppose this makes sense from cultures where people with authority positions haven't always had their best interest at heart. From this discussion I think you can draw some solutions to begin working towards, as she lists some of the ways respect is earned, particularly in predominantly black, urban communities. But this will be challenging if you aren't willing to understand that people different from you have been taught since birth to value different things- and frankly, those values are equally valuable, important and worthy as your own. There was much to gain from this book, but these are a few of the ideas I wanted to hang on to: Regarding the culture of power "1. Issues of power are enacted in the classrooms. These issues include: the power of the teacher over the students; the power of the publishers of textbooks and of the developers of the curriculum to determine the world view presented; the power of the state in enforcing compulsory schooling; and the power of the individual or group to determine another's intelligence or 'normalcy.' Finally if schooling prepares people for jobs, and the kind of job a person has determines her or his economic status and, therefore, power, then schooling is intimately related to that power. 2. There are codes or rules for participating in power; that is, there is a 'culture of power.' The codes or rules I'm speaking of relate to linguistic forms, communicative strategies, and presentation of self; that is, ways of talking, ways of writing, ways of dressing and ways of interacting. 3. The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power. This means that success in institutions-schools, workplaces, and so on-is predicated upon acquisition of the culture of those who are in power. Children from middle-classes homes tend to do better in school than those from non-middle-class homes because the culture of the school is based on the culture of the upper and middle classes- of those in power. The upper and middle classes send their children to school with all the accoutrements of the culture of power; children from other kinds of families operate within perfectly wonderful and viable cultures but not cultures that carry the codes or rules of power. 4. If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier... 5.Those with power are frequently least aware of- or least willing to acknowledge- its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence." She does a great job elaborating on these. This quote is just beautiful: "In conclusion, I am proposing a resolution for the skills/process debate. In short, the debate is fallacious; the dichotomy is false. The issue is really an illusion created initially not by teachers but by academics whose worldview demands the creation of categorical divisions- not for the purpose of better teaching, but for the goal of easier analysis... They [those most skillful at educating poor and black children] understand the need for both approaches, the need to help students establish their own voices, and to coach those voices to produce notes that will be heard clearly in the larger society." In a study done with teachers across the United States, they corrected 78% of dialect miscues in reading and only 27 percent of nondialect miscues. WOW. A great example of empathy: "The Scollons discuss how so much of what just seems ordinary to academically oriented parents is really training children to respond to the world in very specific ways. While these modes may be reinforced in school, they are foreign to many children growing up in families not of part of an academic culture. Along with valuing context, Native Alaskan communities value children in ways that many of us would find hard to fathom. We non-Natives tend to think of children as unformed future adults. we hear about the birth of a child and ask questions like, 'what did she have?' 'How much did it weigh?' and 'Does it have any hair?' The Athabaskan Indians hear of a birth and ask, 'who came?' From the beginning, there is respect for the newborn as a full person. I often hear of Anglo teachers in villages complain that parents don't care about their children. Nothing could have been further from the truth, yet these teachers could not see how care was manifested. They complained that parents didn't make their children come to school, yet parents believed so strongly in the necessity of respecting children's thinking that they would say that if the child did not want to come to school, then the school must not be a place that welcomed the child. The teachers said that parents didn't make the children do homework, but parents believed that if the teacher could not present the work so that the child understood its value, then the work must have had no value. In the parent' view, children were not to be coerced with authority, but were to be treated with the respect that provided them with rationales, stated or unstated, to guide them to make decisions based on their own good sense. During my first few years in Alaska, I was confused by a statement I heard over and over in many villages. When parents found I really wanted to hear what they had to say, they would tell me in a tone of quiet desperation, 'They're making our children into robots.' I accepted what they said and tried to be as sympathetic as I could while trying to understand exactly what they meant. It wasn't until I came back to the university and had talked to Eliza Jones, a gifted Athabaskan linguist, that I began to understand. Eliza, wise and educated, although not in the formal, schooled sense, told me a story- the Athabaskan way of teaching that I learned to cherish. A little boy went out with his grandfather and other men to hunt bear. After capturing a bear and placing it in a pit for skinning, the grandfather sent the boy for water to assist in the process. As the boy moved away from the group, his grandfather called after him, 'Run, run the bear is after you!' The boy tensed, started to run, then stopped and calmly continued walking. His grandfather called again, louder, 'run, run I say! The bear is going to catch and eat you!' But the boy continued to walk. When the boy returned with the water, the grandfather was very happy. He had passed the test. The test the boy passed was to disregard the words of another, even those of a knowledgable and trusted grandfather, if the information presented conflicted with his own perceptions. When children have been brought up to trust their own observations enter school, they confront teachers, who in their estimation, act as unbelievable tyrants. From the children's perspective, their teachers attempt to coerce behavior, even in such completely personal decision as when to go to the bathroom or when to get a drink of water. The bell rings, go to lunch; the lights blink, put your work away, whether you're finished or not. Despite the rhetoric of American education, it does not teach children to be independent but rather to be dependent on external sources for direction, for truth, for meaning. It trains children both to seek meaning soley from the text and to seek truth outside of their own good sense-concepts that are foreign and dangerous to Alaskan village communities." "It might seem fairly straightforward to devise a series of questions for teachers which would tap the knowledge and reasoning that underlies their instruction. However, differences in how individuals and groups communicate can complicate this deceptively simple premise. For example, members of middle-class academic culture tend to assume little shared knowledge among one another in formal settings and expect to state explicitly all relevant information in order to make their messages understood, whereas other cultures and classes maintain communicative ideals that consider it unnecessary for speakers to state knowledge they presume to share with one another- value is seldom placed on displaying information for its own sake. Stating the obvious or 'saying what everyone knows' is not encouraged; it is perceived as 'redundant,' even insulting to the listener, and lacking communicative purpose. Similarly, in a study that analyzed the difficulties experienced by Japanese college students in a university-level speaking class, Alice Yan found that Japanese students had trouble following the guidelines set by the teacher for giving a good speech because they ran counter to Japanese cultural norms of politeness. It was considered rude by these students to be too explicit in developing a line that thinking that might include information already known to the audience... If this were an assessment situation, the teacher candidate might, out of politeness, make a concerted effort not to talk about 'the obvious.' However the assessor might misconstrue this to mean that the candidate did not know the obvious" This was a real eye-opener for me. I never considered this a cultural thing. I don't generally explain things I think the other person already knows. In fact, in some cases, where I'm not sure if they know, I preface my talk with "I don't know if you already know this, so stop me if you do," or something along those lines to indicate that I acknowledge they may have learned this already and I don't want to offend them by "talking down to them" or assuming they don't know about something or wasting their time. For example, as a Ranger, I would talk about nature and the plants and animals around us, but I didn't want to assume that people living in the desert their whole lives didn't know what a particular plant was or hadn't already been to museums or classes where they learned about Native American culture. But some folks hadn't been exposed to that and I didn't want them to leave without having the opportunity to learn, so I always asked first to see... for example I'd ask if they'd been to Pueblo Grande or the Heard Museum... to gage their knowledge first. I would consider it very rude to have just started talking about the history of the region- I'd be wasting their time and assuming their ignorance of the natural history of their own home. I know others would jump right in, but I would feel uncomfortable if I did that. Anyway, this gives me a clearer picture of the different ways people communicate. That's very valuable information. I'm going to pay attention to this when I listen to folks and think about it when presenting information or myself to others. Another great quote: "...we teach teachers rationales for failure, not visions of success." YUP!! We quickly learn about "disadvantaged," "at risk," etc. students and learn that they are not as likely to succeed. We're given studies that link school achievement with socioeconomic status and tons of justifications for their lack of success. But there are many success stories too. Many times where great teachers have succeeded in educating their charges, regardless of their socioeconomic status. So let's focus on them and what they're doing right!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I am not an educator or person of color. I am merely a white mother and active PTA parent whose kids go to schools that are majority non-white. I am very interested in approaches that will raise achievement for all students. Part of the reason I gave only three stars, I think, is that this book is a bit dated. Not that the problems don't still exist, but the context has changed. I had to laugh in frustration when the author discussed adapting the curriculum content and ways of teaching to better I am not an educator or person of color. I am merely a white mother and active PTA parent whose kids go to schools that are majority non-white. I am very interested in approaches that will raise achievement for all students. Part of the reason I gave only three stars, I think, is that this book is a bit dated. Not that the problems don't still exist, but the context has changed. I had to laugh in frustration when the author discussed adapting the curriculum content and ways of teaching to better reach the students. Each successive reform in recent years - No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now the forthcoming APPR evaluations for teachers - have led to less and less flexibility towards teaching and curriculum. The jury is still out on whether this is good or bad for struggling urban students, but it's the way it is. The book seemed repetitive at times. I felt the author got her point across in the first half of the book, and after that was just reiteration. I was skimming so much by the end, that I almost skipped the short essays by other people at the back of this edition. I'm glad I didn't because I thought these provided excellent insight on how this book influenced education and teaching and brought up some of the issues I felt while reading the book. (I'm now adding Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys Vol. I�IV Series to my to-read list.) I felt the author brought up a lot of pertinent issues, but many of her suggestions seemed focused on classrooms that are made up of students of one race. I know the situation of a white teacher with all black, all Latino, etc. students is common, probably more so since this book was written. However, in my kids' schools the case is teachers of diverse backgrounds teaching classes of students with very diverse racial, ethnic, religious, political and socioeconomic backgrounds. While in some ways this is very enriching, it also makes the classes difficult to teach for the very reasons discussed in the book. I felt that implementing some of Delpit's strategies in a situation like this would be very difficult, and I was looking for more ideas for this situation. One of the essays at the end of the book - the one by Patricia Lesesne - gave a little bit of direction. Lesesne's essay also included a point that I had been thinking about while I read the book. Much of the disconnect between students and educators is as much about socioeconomic standing as it is about race. My daughter's middle school has made an effort to hire African-American faculty, but often these teachers' outlook is more like that of the white faculty members than the African-American students' families. I find that often our hall monitors and security guards can do an excellent job connecting with our poorer students at a personal level - probably because they understand the students' background. I would love a discussion of how to include these sorts of staff members in the educational conversation. I understood the discussion in the book of different methods of classroom management and discipline in the book, and I think there is truth to it. But I also found it somewhat amusing because a common complaint of parents is that we are too strict with our students, and this kind of management of students wouldn't happen at an all-white school. Despite some of my criticisms, I would love to see this book - or at least part of it - including in a faculty book group at the schools in our district. I think it would get some issues out that people are afraid to talk about and would invite people who are educating our kids to see things beyond the day-to-day teaching and data collection that they are focused on now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cherise

    Racial stereotyping is everywhere. In society today, many people are judged simply by the color of their skin but not by the content of their character. In terms of education, many people are stereotyped against simply because they are different from the rest. Most of these students are African American and they struggle to adapt in the classroom/society because they are discriminated against by the teacher. The issue between these students and teachers cause conflict between them and that one Racial stereotyping is everywhere. In society today, many people are judged simply by the color of their skin but not by the content of their character. In terms of education, many people are stereotyped against simply because they are different from the rest. Most of these students are African American and they struggle to adapt in the classroom/society because they are discriminated against by the teacher. The issue between these students and teachers cause conflict between them and that one student is not learning at all because they are constantly being judged for who they are. In the book called “Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom,” author Lisa Delpit breaks down the essence of these racial stereotypes by showing how it can be solved through the fact that every one should be treated fairly. The book describes different experiences of racism set within the classroom ranging from students to teachers. “ We hear of the occasional school exemplifying urban excellence, but we are inundated with stories of inner-city mass failure, student violence, and soaring drop out rates.” (“Other People’s Children” XIV). The results of racism within the classroom show in society as the youth following these ways of the unfair treatment with the teachers. It also doesn’t occur within students but teachers as well ( usually of African American and Native American ethnicity) because they feel very much separated from the rest. Delpit breaks this down and her passion shows as she expresses that everyone should be treated fairly within the classroom because everyone deserves to be educated fairly. I liked this book because it talked about racism in the classroom while showing how everyone deserves learn no matter who they are. This book is a great read and everyone should read it if they want to reduce racism within the classroom and in the world around them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    For a book that purports to be about how to teach diverse children in a culturally sensitive way, it has surprisingly little to say on that subject. Out of the entire book, I only found one essay helpful ("Language Diversity and Learning"). If you're looking for information relating to teaching, this is the only part of the book worth reading, though I will say that it really is a good essay. As for the rest of the book, it seemed to me to be wasting all of its time saying that we have a horribl For a book that purports to be about how to teach diverse children in a culturally sensitive way, it has surprisingly little to say on that subject. Out of the entire book, I only found one essay helpful ("Language Diversity and Learning"). If you're looking for information relating to teaching, this is the only part of the book worth reading, though I will say that it really is a good essay. As for the rest of the book, it seemed to me to be wasting all of its time saying that we have a horrible problem and then neglecting to provide any useful suggestions. If I hadn't been convinced of the problem, I wouldn't have been reading the book. I kept wanting her to take the next step, and she never would.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I skimmed through the book and took away nuggets of information to think about. I don't think that everyone will find the book enlightening or career-changing if they're in education, but it is something to think about. And for those who are frustrated with the pure "black and white" idea, Delpit does also interject comparisons to Native Alaskan education to show another aspect of multicultural education. If I had more time, I could definitely find ways to tweak my practice and my educational th I skimmed through the book and took away nuggets of information to think about. I don't think that everyone will find the book enlightening or career-changing if they're in education, but it is something to think about. And for those who are frustrated with the pure "black and white" idea, Delpit does also interject comparisons to Native Alaskan education to show another aspect of multicultural education. If I had more time, I could definitely find ways to tweak my practice and my educational theories and I would be interested in read some of her other work as well to see how it's grown especially in this age where so much of education is a political debate.

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