Sunday, August 23, 2009

Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, by Lisa Delpit: a review by Plain(s) Feminist [50BPT]

Today's entry comes from Plain(s) Feminist, who previously reviewed Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks. Plain(s) Feminist has been blogging about feminism and other stuff since 2006. She lives in Minnesota, teaches Women's Studies, and is mom to Bean and a couple of peeing cats.

Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, by Lisa Delpit

I read Delpit's book in grad school, where I was trying to figure out the difference between being an effective white teacher teaching in a predominantly white classroom and being an effective white teacher teaching in a more racially diverse classroom. Delpit woke me up to some of the negative experiences my students of color were having in school and helped me to think about how I could resist perpetuating these and also perhaps be an ally - and better teacher - to my students.

"Children of color, as well as poor children,"other people's children" are often victimized by school administrators and others who see "damaged and dangerous caricatures" instead of able youngsters who are capable of learning in a mainstream setting. This is the observation of Delpit, who has used her varied experience in schools from New Guinea to Alaska to better understand and resolve cultural clashes in American classrooms. In the provocative essays collected here, Delpit unfolds her views on teaching African American children, based on professional research and her own experience of school as an alien environment. Defining the goal of educators as celebration, not merely toleration, of diversity in the classroom, Delpit illustrates ways that teachers, including African Americans, can build on students' home cultures to help prepare them for life after school. The author's vision of alternative perspectives should stimulate rethinking the complexities of multicultural inclusiveness. Delpit is Benjamin E. Mays Chair of Urban Educational Leadership at Georgia State Univ." (Publishers Weekly)
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