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The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children 2nd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470408155
ISBN-10: 0470408154
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Dreamkeepers

In the second edition of her critically acclaimed book The Dreamkeepers, Gloria Ladson-Billings revisits the eight teachers who were profiled in the first edition and introduces us to new teachers who are current exemplars of good teaching. She shows that culturally relevant teaching is not a matter of race, gender, or teaching style. What matters most is a teacher's efforts to work with the unique strengths a child brings to the classroom. A brilliant mixture of scholarship and storytelling, The Dreamkeepers challenges us to envision intellectually rigorous and culturally relevant classrooms that have the power to improve the lives of not just African American students, but all children. This new edition also includes questions for reflection.

Praise for the First Edition

"The Dreamkeepers keeps hope alive for educating young African Americans."
—Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, president and founder, National Rainbow Coalition

"The Dreamkeepers is an immensely important and useful book for teachers and teacher educators. . . . In a creative, credible, and persuasive way, Gloria Ladson-Billings has made a major contribution to the field of multicultural education."
—JaCqueline Jordan Irvine, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Urban Education,Emory University

"Ladson-Billings integrates scholarly research with stories of eight successful teachers in a predominantly African American school district to illustrate that the 'dream' of all teachers and parents—academic success for all children—is alive and can be emulated."
—Library Journal

"Here is a book filled with pride and questions that should stimulate anyone interested in improving education."
—Booklist

About the Author

Gloria Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Previously, she served on the faculty of Santa Clara University and worked as a teacher and consultant in the Phila-delphia public school system. She is the former president of the American Educational Research Association, and was elected to the National Academy of Education. Dr. Ladson-Billings is the author and editor of numerous articles and books, including The Dreamkeepers, Crossing Over to Canaan, and Beyond the Big House.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2 edition (March 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470408154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470408155
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book for a Graduate School paper. It was a very interesting book with real life stories. It was easy to read with a lot of great ideas for teaching not just African American children but all children.
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This book was mentioned in a staff development, I am a junior high teacher, I bought a copy. It is an interesting read and very informative and provocative.

One of the things which I was most taken by was the level at which it was written. Gloria Ladson-Billings is an excellent author and has edited this book extremely well. Quite often when I read books with similar content to this, I find myself frustrated by the authors voice changing from a third person to first person experiences, but trying to pass them off as third person. Gloria Ladson-Billings uses distinct textual transitions to keep this from becoming muddled and confusing or boring.

I especially appreciate that she doesn't try to pass her opinions off as fact - again - she has written this book extremely well.
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I read this book for my Critical Pedagogy class (a class for social justice). I’m heading back to school to become a teacher. I rate this book 4 stars and I would recommend it to anyone who works with youth. Ladson-Billings writes about an extensive study she conducted with the purpose of identifying what methodologies have been most successful in helping African American students achieve academic success. In general, the book is full of amazing teaching strategies and inspiring stories. One of the main focuses though is what she calls culturally relevant teaching. I love the principles of this pedagogy and find that it fits in quite well with my own teaching philosophies. According to Ladson-Billings, culturally relevant teaching “is a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes.” Throughout the book, she focuses on African American students and their teachers. Although she doesn’t explicitly speak of other ethnicities, I assume that much of what she writes be relevant and applicable in a general multicultural school setting. I truly enjoyed reading about successful teaching stories strategies but I began the book by thinking she was going to emphasize a clearer strategy of high quality education that minority students will best benefit from… but I finished the book feeling like this was never explicitly stated. I guess for me, I truly believe that ALL students will benefit from the use of culturally relevant teaching. I still gave it 4 stars because the stories are inspiring and, as I said, culturally relevant teaching and critical pedagogy are important in general. In the end, I would recommend this book to anyone who works with youth, but I just felt like I had to sift through the stories a bit to find the anticipated seeds of wisdom.
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I read this book for a Nature of the Learner course I took Columbia International University. In Dr. Ladson-Billings' second edition of The Dreamkeepers (2009), she revisits eight teachers who were interviewed and observed in the first edition (1994). 15 new teachers who are examples of great teaching are also introduced in the afterword. The stories of all of the teachers take place in predominantly African American school districts. The basic premise of the book is to show that culturally relevant teaching is a matter of teachers bringing out the different strengths of students in the classrooms. Each teacher that Dr. Ladson-Billings studied focused on three central things in their teaching - a strong focus on student learning, developing cultural competence, and cultivating a sociopolitical awareness in the students.

The Dreamkeepers consists of seven chapters and is 225 pages when including the two appendices (Dr. Ladson-Billings' methodology and the context of the study), 14 pages of notes, the index, and 21 study questions. I do not find The Dreamkeepers to be a riveting read, but that is a common theme in a number of my book reviews of this type. I do think this book is important for African American teachers and teachers of African American students and can certainly benefit anyone in the teaching profession.
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Although this book focuses on a familiar theme in educational circles, that of how to reach African-American children in school, it focuses on a variety of areas where educators should pay attention. It does not conclude that only African-American teachers can teach African-American children. On the contrary, author Gladson-Billings highlights teachers from different ethnic backgrounds. Her thesis is not revolutionary, but challenging - teachers need to teach in culturally relevant ways. This book is a good compliment to works by Sonia Nieto and Lisa Delpit. New and old teachers can appreciate this work!
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The book is one of the best ethnographic studies I've read based on African Americans so far. Ladson-Billings goes even as far to say that some people "reduce research findings to individual idiosyncracies" (p. 14) implying that there is a bigger picture that is not observed enough. This statement is kudos from a quality researcher! What tends to turn me off from the book is a particular part of the study itself and some of the results discussed of the ethnographic comparisons. In one portion of the study, she compares an inexperienced WM teacher in a more suburban, better off school, to an experienced BF teacher in a poor, urban district. (We will assume experienced is "5+ years experience" which I believe is what was implied for this term for this particular text.) I felt the comparison was more apples to oranges rather than being able to generalize a broad statement about how culture does or does not matter.

The tone of the book gets to the point where it feels like only the black race is in need, but any minority in any country has different sets of needs. While I would not expect each of these needs to be researched in one such book, in at least one or a few cases, blacks and latinos are lumped together. What about Asians, Muslims, minority races in foreign countries, or possibly even subsets or "subsets" or the races?

Her Appendix A and Appendix B help enhance the book. People whom also stood out to Ladson-Billings, but whom could not be included in the meat of the book itself were added. This was a wonderful idea!

What I like about this book is that is gives one ideas on how to work with a population where the black culture takes over.
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