- Paperback: 206 pages
- Publisher: New Press; English Language edition (February 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1565841808
- ISBN-13: 978-1565841802
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom English Language Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
MacArthur fellow and educator Delpit argues that many minority students are erroneously labeled "underachievers" due to failures of communication between teachers and students.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A godsend. . . honest and fair, yet visionary and firm. -- Quarterly Black Review
Here, finally, is multiculturalism with a human face. -- Teacher Magazine
Phenomenal. . . Reading it feels like a breath of fresh air in an increasingly polluted world. Without works like this, those of us who are struggling to change our schools (as well as our society) would be unable to breathe. -- San Francisco Review of Books
[Delpit] is a keen student of the way that ideas and practices take on new meanings in cultural contexts, including the context of unequal power. -- The Nation
[Other People's Children] provides an important, yet typically avoided, discussion of how power imbalances in the larger U.S. society reverberate in classrooms. -- Harvard Educational Review
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Top Customer Reviews
Please read this book carefully and do not allow her remarks (some of which may sound racist to Whites) get in the way of the main idea: all teachers of all colors need to understand how to improve literacy for minorities.
I got the book from the library, but now I'm going to purchase my own copy.
A book like this will cause controversy. But I agree it deserves every award it has won.
What she says is true... it take time, effort, and patience to get understand how to reach OTHER PEOPLES children.
As public education strives to address the educational needs of an increasingly diverse population, it is critical to be able to understand what educators can and should be doing to better educate all children. Being able to view education through others' cultural lenses provides for our own insight into the issues that surround teaching to diversity. Lisa Delpit is one educator who has challenged the mainstream education of our children to look closely at how we meet the needs of children from diverse cultures and backgrounds. She has asked us to examine the role of power in culture and how the issues surrounding power have influenced society and educational systems. She brings a powerful voice not only to those children of color in American schools, but also to those from other parts of the world. With passion and reason, Delpit provides case after case of students and teachers who acknowledge the powers within their culture and the impact on their education. Delpit presents her stories in a series of essays that date from the early 1980s. The book is divided into three parts. The first part contains essays that address "progressive" approaches to teaching literacy. "Skills and Other Dilemmas of a Progressive Black Educator," explore the controversies surrounding the whole language approach to teaching reading. Experiences of teachers and students are movingly portrayed. Delpit was actually ahead of her time in suggesting that the methods of whole language and process writing have not always served the best interests of children of color. She supports a comprehensive instructional program that emphasizes basic skill instruction as well as a whole language approach. Without the basic skills, children of color are denied access to the knowledge that is conveyed through a whole language approach. She demands that children of color be challenged and held to high standards, but they must have the tools in order to do so. Delpit extensively discusses the culture of power in the second essay, "The Silenced Dialogue." By citing five aspects of power that connect the classroom to society, she suggests that children must know the codes of power in order to be successful in mainstream society. As educators we must give all our students the skills needed to access the power within our culture. But just as important is how the teacher can preserves the integrity of the student's native culture, community, and background. The challenge is to mesh these two important pieces in order to have students be able to move comfortably from native culture to mainstream culture and be successful in both. The second part of the book is a discussion that offers a "world view" of the impact of culture on education. From Alaska to New Guinea, these essays speak to the importance of upholding and valuing the customs, language, and heritage of native peoples. Education is most successful for children from diverse cultures when teaching is done in the context of the culture and community of these children. Special attention should be paid to how cultures communicate. The examples from the native peoples of Alaska speak to the importance of the context of communication-body language, intonation, who is the communicator. All of these components must be given serious consideration when using mainstream, traditional, decontextualized methods of teaching literacy. Delpit emphasizes the need to use a combination of teaching styles and strategies to meet the educational needs of all children. The final section of Delpit's book deals with how to make the changes necessary to successfully teach children from diverse cultures. Delpit takes a stand on the use of professional teaching standards and the need for alternative assessment to determine the effectiveness of minority teachers much in the same way the use of standardized tests are used to evaluate minority student performance. She expresses concern over bias in assessment that may overlook the essential and effective qualities of teachers of color that may be overlooked with current models of teacher certification, specifically the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). A second essay in part three deals with the politics of what teachers must do to help children from the lower SES and children of color function successfully in the dominant discourse while validating the students' home language. Drawing on the work of James Paul Gee, Delpit makes an impassioned plea for teachers to be committed to teaching ALL of their students by becoming agents of change. Finally, Delpit tackles the challenges of multicultural educational reform. Citing the impact of (1) stereotypes, (2) teaching to student strengths, not deficits, (3) the value of community and family, and (4) specific problems with educating poor and culturally diverse students, she challenges programs of teacher education to lead the way in creating a more diverse teaching force, one that prepares teachers to really see and know the students we teach. Only then do we as teachers become agents of change. As an educator with over 15 years experience in public and private education, at all levels from elementary to higher education, I find it difficult to disagree with Delpit's perspectives on the issues concerning teaching to diversity and the culture of power. Because I am a member of the "culture of power" the text has made me look closely at my own biases and prejudices concerning how we educate all children. I have closely examined my own objectives in striving to teach preservice teachers about how we all can teach to diversity. As a teacher educator, I want to bring the student voice strongly to the front; I want my students to tell their own stories as relates to the role of education in creating goals for a multicultural curriculum. Moving past the rhetoric of multicultural education, Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom continues to be timely as Delpit has shown us a path to truly open up the world to all our students. I for one will strive to follow her lead.