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Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom 1st Edition

53 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1595580740
ISBN-10: 1595580743
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Editorial Reviews


"A godsend . . . honest and fair, yet visionary and firm."
Quarterly Black Review

"Phenomonal. . . . [This book] overcomes fear and speaks of truths, truths that otherwise have no voice."
The San Francisco Review of Books

"Here, finally, is multiculturalism with a human face."
Teacher Magazine

"Provides an important, yet typically avoided, discussion of how power imbalances in the larger U.S. society reverberate in classrooms."
Harvard Educational Review

About the Author

Lisa Delpit is an Eminent Scholar and Executive Director of the Center for Urban Education and Innovation at Florida International University in Miami, where she lives. Her work is dedicated to providing excellent education for marginalized communities in the United States and abroad. Herb Kohl is a recipient of the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He was the founder and first director of the Teachers and Writers Collaborative in New York City and established the PEN West Center in San Francisco, where he lives. He is the author of more than forty books, including the bestselling 36 Children and the classic “I Won’t Learn from You” (The New Press).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595580743
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595580740
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MacArthur "genius" award winner Lisa Delpit's article on "Other People's Children" for Harvard Magazine in the 1990s was the single most requested reprint in the magazine's history; Harvard School of Education gave her its award for Outstanding Contribution to Education. She is now the Felton G. Clark Professor of Education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she lives.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dana M. Pavuk on December 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
Even though the focus of this book is working with African-American children, the underlying theme that I took away from this book is the importance of understanding the culture of the children we work with on a daily basis. At one point I taught in an inner-city school with children with a variety of socio-economic and cultural experiences. At another school, I taught in a rural school, with my first class being children of farmers, and another class children of factory workers. Even though I was white, and they were white, I had to understand the farming and factory culture in order to reach my students. Relationship is primary in teaching, because if the children don't trust you, you will not be able to teach them. This book helped me to do that.

This book also helped me understand the social justice part of the teaching profession. Knowledge may be power, but education is opportunity. It's one thing to teach children because you "like" them, it's another to see yourself as doing the work of social justice.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. Holleman on April 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We recently read this book as part of my MA in Secondary Ed, and I highly recommend it. Our diverse class of aspiring public school teachers found the author's opinionated and passionate essays to be a great discussion starter, with most of us having either strong positive or negative reactions to Delpit's perspective. In particular, we liked her explanation of the importance of direct language and making expectations of the school culture explicit for kids. In a critical sense, we found she tended to generalize too much.

Here are a few examples of things we found interesting:

White teachers ask "Where do you think the scissors go?" and black kids think, man, how did she get to be a teacher, she doesn't even know where the scissors go! Whereas, according to Delpit, a black teacher might say "Put the scissors back in the drawer and sit down."

White teachers at a school in Native Alaska complain about parents not making their kids go to school. Native Alaskan parents, whose culture values children's authority, respond that if their children don't want to got to school then the school must be a place where the children do not feel welcome.

Teachers are often compared to lawyers and doctors, when in fact a better comparison is with preachers, who need to respond to and inspire their congregations.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By V ROUSE on June 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have used this book for in-service training courses on meeting the needs of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Delpit is extremely honest and forthright in her discussion of Cultural Conflict in the Classroom -- and how our schools can prepare our CLD students to make their way in the world.
This book is NOT for people who want to say they studied these issues but do not want to risk offending anyone. It is for people who truly want to have these conversations and are willing to get down to the nitty-gritty of dealing with differences, prejudices, and how we prepare students of all colors and backgrounds to be part of our multi-cultural world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. Hogan on November 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lisa Delpit's novel, "Other People's Children" is an insightful read about the cultural differences that exist in our society today. For some background information, Lisa Delpit is an African American who at a young age was forced into an integrated school district. She has written "Other People's Children" to share her beliefs on racism, mistreatment, and ignorance of our culture today. The book is divided into three sections, each consuming of a plan of action to create a more culture friendly society for teachers, students, and administration. Delpit's suggestion about her non-traditional approach to teaching is extremely insightful. Delpit focuses on teaching children of color, but her strategies and advice can be used to benefit all types of students.
The first section of the book, "Skills and Other Dilemmas of a Progressive Black Educator" discusses the ins and outs of our societies idea of a "language progressive" ideology. Here, and through out her entire novel, Delpit shares stories that have actually occurred in her life. For example, she talks about the idea of "black vs. standard English." Throughout her childhood, many would try and correct her grammar. This did not sit well with Delpit due to the fact that she believed she should write as she would talk. To keep from correcting her own students as she once was, she created a strategy to improve her students writing skills. She developed the idea of a "fast write" and "golden lines" which were to be done in a group process. This strategic plan helped students write freely, and focused their energy on fluency over correctness.
The next section of the book is titled, "Lessons from Home and Abroad: Other Cultures and Communities," These stories piece together the importance of culture acceptance.
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23 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Joel Rosenblum on September 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a must-read. Many important issues are presented which I had never engaged with before, even in my teaching program, and even in a class in which the teacher urged us to read this book (but didn't make it mandatory).

To cut to the quick, though, I have a few problems with it. Delpit seems to suggest that white teachers are not direct enough with minority (esp. black) kids, and this is a source of confusion, because black parents have a much more direct style than white parents, and so black kids don't know what to do when they aren't being ordered around as at home. Perhaps this is true, but what she doesn't say is that black parents also tend to use corporal punishment to enforce their authority... should we white teachers then be allowed to hit black kids for disrespecting us or refusing to comply with our commands? Many blacks I've talked to have emphatically argued that indeed, teachers should be allowed to hit the kids. But somehow this must cross the line for Delpit.

Another thing I noticed is that on p. 120, she quotes "a black teacher who taught for 2 years and then left the profession in 1971" as saying that "Minority teachers expect kids to make their own decisions; white teachers tell kids everything to do." This is obviously contradicting what Delpit says in her entire book, yet she does not even address the contradiction after the quote.

Then on p. 173 to 174, she talks about the now-cliched idea that we need to teach disadvantaged kids MORE, not less as we have been doing. Yet we can't teach them boring, minute skills, she says. What she doesn't say is, HOW are we supposed to teach them more when they can't even get the little we are trying to teach them? Is she saying we should pay home visits for extra tutoring?
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