Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom

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Overview


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 ...

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Overview


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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595580740
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Pages: 223
  • Sales rank: 76,668
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet 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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Read an Excerpt


Introduction

SCENE I

Carolyn is a young Irish-American kindergarten teacher
who has been teaching for five years. The school at
which she has taught has been a predominantly white,
middle-class school in a quiet neighborhood in New England.
However, because of recent redistricting, the school population
now includes children from a housing project not far
away. These children are almost exclusively poor and black.
Thus, Carolyn and the other teachers in the school are newly
faced with a population of children with whom they are completely
unfamiliar.

I am working on a research project with Carolyn. She has
asked me to observe a little boy named Anthony, a five-year-old
black child from “the projects,” whom she has defined as a
child with behavioral, learning, and language problems. She
wants to use the results of my observations to “get him help.”

In my observations of Anthony in the classroom, I have
noticed that he gets almost no positive feedback during the
course of a day, and instead receives a tremendous number of
negative comments. I have taken Anthony out into the hallway
several times to talk and play privately so as to get a better
assessment of his actual abilities. The following dialogue is
taken from a transcript of my conference with Carolyn about
my observations. I am attempting to point out some of
Anthony’s positive points to Carolyn:

L: Anthony told me that he liked school and that his favorite
thing in his class was group time.
C: That’s amazing, since he can’t sit still in it. He just says
anything sometimes. In the morning he’s OK; after nap
he’s impossible.

*
• *

L: He’s really talking more, it seems!
C: He’s probably never allowed to talk at home. He needs
communicative experience. I was thinking of referring him
to a speech therapist. He probably never even got to use
scissors at home.

*
• *

L: He told me about his cousin he plays with after school. It
seems he really does have things to talk about.
C: It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think he even knows what
family means. Some of these kids don’t know who their
cousins are and who their brothers and sisters are.

SCENE II

Charles is a three-year-old African-American boy who likes a
little white girl in my daughter’s nursery school class. Like
most three-year-olds, his affection is expressed as much with
hugs as with hits. One morning I notice that Charles has been
hovering around Kelly, his special friend. He grabs her from
behind and tries to give her a bear hug. When she protests,
the teacher tells him to stop. A short time later he returns to
her table to try to kiss her on the cheek. She protests again and
the teacher puts him in “time-out.” I comment to the teacher
with a smile that Charles certainly seems to have a little crush
on Kelly. She frowns and replies that his behavior is “way out
of line.” She continues with disgust in her voice, “Sometimes
what he does just looks like lust.”

SCENE III

One evening I receive a telephone call from Terrence’s mother,
who is near tears. A single parent, she has struggled to put her
academically talented fourteen-year-old African-American
son in a predominantly white private school. As an involved
parent, she has spoken to each of his teachers several times
during the first few months of school, all of whom assured her
that Terrence was doing “just fine.” When the first quarter’s
report cards were issued, she observed with dismay a report
filled with Cs and Ds. She immediately went to talk to his
teachers. When asked how they could have said he was doing
fine when his grades were so low, each of them gave her some
version of the same answer: “Why are you so upset? For him,
Cs are great. You shouldn’t try to push him so much.”

As I lived through each of these scenarios, a familiar sense of
dread closed in around me: my throat constricted, my eyes
burned, I found it hard to breathe. I have faced this fog too
many times in my career in education. It is a deadly fog
formed when the cold mist of bias and ignorance meets the
warm vital reality of children of color in many of our schools.
It is the result of coming face-to-face with the teachers, the
psychologists, the school administrators who look at “other
people’s children” and see damaged and dangerous caricatures
of the vulnerable and impressionable beings before them.

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. When we see a group of young black men, we lock
our car doors, cross to the other side of the street, or clutch our
handbags. We are constantly told of the one out of four black
men who is involved with the prison system – but what about
the three out of four who are not? During a major storm this
past winter, a group of young black men in my neighborhood
spent the day freeing cars that were stuck in the ice. When do
we see their lives portrayed on the six o’clock news?

So, as a result of living in this society, their teachers make
big assumptions about Anthony, Charles, and Terrence. They
judge their actions, words, intellects, families, and communities
as inadequate at best, as collections of pathologies at
worst. These stories can be justifiably interpreted as examples
of racism. However valid that interpretation may be, it is
insufficient, for it gives us no clue as to how to resolve the
problem. Indeed, these views are not limited to white adults.
In my experience in predominantly black school districts, the
middle-class African-American teachers who do not identify
with the poor African-American students they teach may hold
similarly damaging stereotypes. These adults probably are not
bad people. They do not wish to damage children; indeed,
they likely see themselves as wanting to help. Yet they are
totally unable to perceive those different from themselves
except through their own culturally clouded vision. In my
experience, they are not alone.

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
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. It is as if we are in the middle
of a great computer-generated virtual reality game, but the
“realities” displayed in various participants’ minds are
entirely different terrains. When one player moves right and
up a hill, the other player perceives him as moving left and
into a river.

What are we really doing to better educate poor children and
children of color? Sporadically we hear of “minorities” scoring
higher in basic skills, but on the same newspaper page we’re
informed of their dismal showing in higher-order thinking
skills. 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. We are
heartened by new attempts at school improvement – better
teacher education, higher standards, revised curricula – even
while teachers of color are disappearing from the workforce and
fiscal cutbacks increase class sizes, decimate critical instruc-
tional programs, and make it impossible to repair the buildings
that are literally falling down around our children’s heads.

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. I have come to some of
those understandings through my own attempts to understand
my place in this country as an African-American
woman: I am the offspring of a teacher in a colored high school
in pre-integration Louisiana and a man who received his GED
diploma in his fortieth year, only to die of kidney failure at the
age of forty-seven because the “colored ward” was not permitted
to use the dialysis machine. I am the frightened teenager
who was part of the first wave of black students to integrate
hostile white high schools. I am the college student of the
1970s whose political and ethical perspectives were developed
against the backdrop of the struggle for black liberation and
the war in Vietnam. I am the panicked mother of a five-year-old
soon to enter an urban public school system where I can no
longer buffer her from damaging perspectives. I am the
teacher of many diverse students – from African-American
toddlers to Papua New Guinean preschoolers, and from Hispanic
middle-schoolers to European-American college students,
to Native Alaskan teachers.

The essays included in this book chronicle my journey into
understanding other worlds, journeys that involved learning
to see, albeit dimly, through the haze of my own 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 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. When one “we” gets to determine
standards for all “wes,” then some “wes” are in trouble!

*

The book is divided into three parts. The first contains two
articles originally published in the Harvard Educational Review
which stirred a great deal of controversy because they challenged
aspects of popular approaches to literacy. “Process
writing” and “whole language” advocates believed me to be
attacking their “progressive” and “child-centered” methods of
instruction, while I saw myself as struggling to figure out why
some children of color in classrooms utilizing these methodologies
were not learning to read and write, not acquiring the
“codes of power” necessary for success in this society. These
articles also questioned why teachers and parents of color were
so seldom included in the conversations about what was good
for their children. The third essay in Part 1 describes another
aspect of my thinking, one that has seldom been considered in
critiques of my work: even while teachers provide access to the
“codes of power” represented by acquiring facility in “standard
edited English,” they must also value and make use in
the classroom of the language and culture children bring from
home.

Part 2 tries to find the origins of some of these views in my
experiences and research, particularly through my work in
Papua New Guinea and Alaska, where I learned to see the
world through the eyes of those with very different histories.
It was in those two settings that I first understood the need to
step outside of myself and my beliefs in order to allow the perspectives
of others to filter in. This part also includes a
description of the results of research on the views and attitudes
of teachers of color about their teacher education and
subsequent teaching careers. With the number of students of
color increasing in our public school systems every year, even
as the number of teachers of color drops, I believe it is essential
that we go directly to these seldom-asked teachers to identify
the problems associated with their entering and remaining in
the teaching profession.

Part 3 offers some thoughts on solutions and directions for
our future as educators. I am not immodest enough to believe
that I have the answers to the myriad problems facing educa-
tion, but I do hope that these essays suggest some avenues for
those working to find solutions. One piece is directed specifically
to teachers on teaching literacy to disenfranchised students.
Another presents recommendations to policy makers
for making the assessment of teachers more sensitive to issues
of cultural difference. The last part concludes with a more
general essay on multicultural education, given as the Charles
H. Thompson Lecture at Howard University, 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.

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Table of Contents


Contents

Editor’s Note ix
Acknowledgments xi
Introduction to the 2005 Edition xiii
Introduction xxi

PART 1: CONTROVERSIES REVISITED

Skills and Other Dilemmas of a Progressive Black Educator 11
The Silenced Dialogue 21
Language Diversity and Learning 48

PART 2: LESSONS FROM HOME AND ABROAD

The Vilis Tokples Schools of Papua New Guinea 77
“Hello, Grandfather” 91
Teachers’ Voices 105

PART 3: LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Cross-cultural Confusions in Teacher Assessment 135
The Politics of Teaching Literate Discourse 152
Education in a Multicultural Society 167

Reflections on Other People’s Children HERBERT KOHL 185
Teaching the Hard of Head CHARLES M. PAYNE 188
Other People’s Children: The Lasting Impact PATRICIA LESESNE 193

Notes 201

Index 215

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2009

    Mixed Feeling on Other Peoples Children

    Lisa Delpit's book "Other People's Children" has an interesting opinion on education today. Delpit is able to dive into different cultures and explore their educating systems. Delpit's ideas are ones that challenge your ideas in education. The book gives you ways of teaching that would be conducive to all types of students. She focuses on ethnic children and issues they face in the classroom. Delpit is an educator who believes that you must know your students and care about their success in the classroom. She takes a close look at how you can better communicate with students no matter their backgrounds. Delpit knows the importance of the personal touch in the classroom. She spreads this knowledge in the book with the readers. Delpit raises ideas that ask you to move outside of your comfort zone and into the lives of the children in the classroom. We as readers are able to come to the realization of what are battles in the classroom and what are misunderstandings. She informs teachers there are ups and downs in the learning process. She gives the teachers examples on how to communicate with students who are productive in the classroom. Delpit covers the vital topic of communication. She explains that education and diversity does not stop with your students. You must also be able to educate your colleges. It is important to have diverse people decide how the students can be taught. You never know what insight one person may have on a particular topic. Delpit explains the severity of having this surety. This could be the difference between students who understand material being taught and students who are not successful in the class. While reading this book I feel that Delpit did not cover some topics are well as she could have. Delpit did not seem to be able to look at the range low and high achieve minority students. Delpit also sees to be attacking all teachers in the education field at times in this book. Delpit ask the question of why have things not improved and tries to push education in a new direction. Throughout Delpit's book she explains diversity in the classroom. I did not agree with everything that Delpit had to say throughout the book, but she was able to interest me in new ideas I had not addressed before. If you are look for a good educational read, with a controversial opinion then this is the book for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    Order is everything when it comes to this book, including how you read it.

    Lisa Delpit wrote Other People's Children to teach us of how everyone has a different way of learning, and that incorporating all of the different styles can be beneficial to the children in the classroom environments. Lisa's writing style in this book feels very blunt and emotional: two adverbs normally not used together, and yet they feel appropriate with this piece of work. Each chapter, she covers a different society of people, whether it's native Alaskans, laid back Papua New Guineans, or even the traditional American citizen. Lisa gives stories and testimonials from the people involved to explain how everyone has a different style of learning, and offers suggestions for including them in more traditional classrooms.
    Just about all of the chapters are excellent. The start of the Teachers' Voice chapter in particular highlights some of the changes in society: what is right now considered a minority group -- effectively, anyone that is not of white descent -- is often the majority inside our high schools. There is a strong possibility that society will reflect that within our lifetimes.
    The only problem I can foresee with this book is how future readers feel about the author. There can be many that will feel animosity towards Lisa. A lot of it depends on what chapters are read first. Reading this book in the order given, from left to right, can make one want to hate Lisa wrongfully. Considering that most people read books in order instead of picking and choosing chapters, this is how I feel most will feel. If it is read in a particular order, one usually noted by a teacher or professor that has read the book previously, she is usually seen in a better light than most.
    To my classmates and other future teachers, I give Lisa Delpit's Other People's Children 4 stars out of 5. Unlike most of my classmates, I enjoyed reading the various scenarios that were written explaining the many learning conditions of the children. I had no malice towards her. Then again, I did read the book out of its intended order. For the rest of the populace that would read this book in order, I give it a 3 instead.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    AN EYE OPENER

    Truly a masterpiece on the other side of the looking glass of education. This work is insightful and inspiring. It reads smoothly and keeps you hooked from one page to the next, but more importantly, it sheds light on some very crucial and ignored issues on education today. Any educator who reads even a few pages from this book will find their teaching enriched. If you think you know all there is to know on teaching in a culturally diverse classroom, this book will show you how limited your perspective really is. Furthermore, it will help you on your way to truly give appropriate instruction in the best way fore each child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    Do not read

    This is the wrong book to read if one is an educator. Most of the suggestions made on teaching multicultural students is absurd. As an hispanic education major I believe every student should be taught the same wether they are white or black. The author wants to focus on diversity in the class but only seems to talk about the "black" child. Yeah she mentions two other cultures, but needs to remember there are more ethnic diversities in this world. I couldnt even find myself to finish the book because it is filled with so much nonsense.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 30, 2009

    Other People's Children book review

    Lisa Delpit did a wonderful job explaining her experiences in a way that most people can easily understand. The book itself was very informational and interesting to read. Each chapter was different and explained the teaching methods found throughout different cultures. This information would help any future teacher in their classroom in regards to teaching techniques and how to teach students from different backgrounds. Lisa Delpit has been around the world witnessing different types of teaching methods that may be used in an everyday classroom. She then sat down and wrote a well worded book about it so we could experience her journey as well. I would recommend this book to anyone who was thinking about becoming a teacher; I would even recommend it to those who are already teaching. Her thoughts and ideas were well organized and put together in a manner that was easy to follow.

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  • Posted October 23, 2009

    Ohere people's Children

    Lisa Delpit's book, "Other People's Children" is an educational book that is a must read for any future teacher. The book presents the many different problems or occasions that can arise in the classroom. To me, the purpose of the book was to tell teachers "get to know your students; don't just assume that stereotypes are true". In so many chapters, they stereotypes are disproved; however, we as teachers need to know these stereotypes and try not to make our minority students uncomfortable. The best policy is to understand each student and always put these students in best opportunity to succeed. Another one of Delpit's important messages comes in the chapter about The Vilis Tokples Schools of Papa New Guinea. This chapter, along with others in the book, informs the readers not to belittle or take away a student's culture. Some students will naturally be more reserved then others, while some student's behavior might be considered problematic. These aspects can result from the child's culture, or other reasons. Actions of certain student's don't necessarily mean the child has no interest in school. Teachers have to be able o realize and help the child adjust. Culture is such a large part of a student's personality, and is such a large part of how students learn. Delphit wants the readers to know that just because a student has a different culture or ethnic background, doesn't mean they cannot learn. We have to be ready to accept the challenges and not give up on them.
    Delpit's book is a great tool for teachers to use; there is something in there for all teachers to use while in the classroom. The book touches on all the ethnic, cultural, social, and other problems that the education system faces.

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  • Posted October 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Book Review of "Other People's Children" by Lisa Delpit

    In Lisa Delpit's "Other People's Children", Delpit explores the intricacies of multicultural classrooms across the world and the effects that are had on multicultural students. During her time as an educator and researcher Delpit explores the dynamics of many different cultural settings, from the students of Papa New Guinea to the remote locations of the Alaskan education system. Delpit tackles many issues concerning the different uses and forms of communication and language in the classroom and infers that the students of each different culture should be allowed to maintain the differences between their separate cultures and not necessarily be mainstreamed or pressured to use "standard English" by the current school system. Delpit focuses squarely on the teachers in the educational system and points out many flaws that are currently in established practice in today's modern classroom.

    While I agree with the need to respect and embrace different cultures in the classroom, I feel one of the flaws of Delpit's book is the fact that she never discusses any problems outside of the teachers in the classroom. She constantly places blame on the White educators of America and does not really over any solutions to the problems that are tackled in this book. She relies heavily on other people's research and I would have liked to hear what Delpit thinks would be the best solution to the current system of teaching that we have in place today. I think that she leaves out an important argument that has forced our education system to become what it currently is today. I feel that the lawmakers and administrators of our current educational system have forced our teaching professionals into the practices that are used in today's classroom. Delpit however, never embraces that notion in her work.

    For the most part, I was at odds with Delpit's views and theories of the modern day classroom. Some parts of the book left me inspired to become an educator, while some parts wanted to make me put down the book altogether. However much I disagreed with Delpit though, I feel as a student with an open mind and currently in an education program that this book was an important read to at least get me to think about important issues regarding race and culture. The book will definitely make you think and allow you to examine your own feeling on different races, cultures and the classroom.

    I would like to leave the potential readers with this quote from Delpit and something that inspired me. "Why can't we figure out ways to make that child happy in school?" (p. 99) As a future educator and regardless on my views on Delpit's Book, this question is one that has to be answered by anyone who wishes to enter or has already entered the teaching profession.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2009

    Review of Other People's Children by Delpit

    Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit is a book that any prospective teacher should keep on their bookshelves. It is the perfect reference when a teacher needs to handle all types of teaching situations from students with diverse languages to dealing with cultural differences. The last chapter in particular entitles "Education in a Multicultural Society" pinpoints the main problems in educating multicultural students. Delpit presents her arguments in a ruthless way, that does not sugarcoat anything for the prospective teachers reading her experiences and accounts.
    In her final chapter she begins a section stating, "We say we believe that all children can learn, but few of us really believe it." Delpit says what all of the other authors are scared to point out about how we educate our children. The problems we have in education today are mostly present because people are scared to talk about them and actually point out the flaws. Delpit points out what is wrong with our ways of educating numerous times throughout the book, and multiple times in this last chapter. Delpit is trying to make the point and be the person who "calls out" the educational system in hopes of getting some positive responses or changes from it. She not only points out problems education has but also presents solutions or explanations for her problems.
    By reading just the last chapter of this book, prospective teachers learn to deal with language diversity barriers, stereotyping, and educating poor and culturally diverse children. In just one chapter she explains why these problems persist in the educational system. Then she gives and account of her own experiences with such situations. For example, in her section of the last chapter about stereotyping, Delpit offers examples of the many stereotypes a teacher may run into in the classroom. She explains the stereotype for Asian-American students is "the 'perfect' students, that they will do well regardless of the academic setting in which they are placed."(Delpit 170). Then she goes into explaining how this stereotype can negatively effect these students and gives a personal experience with students of this stereotype. Delpit does more than other authors that try to explain how to educate children. She presents her opinions and arguments then backs them up with outstanding personal accounts and suggestions for change.
    I would highly recommend this book to any prospective teacher who wanted to get a real look at what the job would take. I would also recommend this to anyone considering the possibility of becoming a teacher. Many people go into this career not really knowing what to expect or how they will have to handle certain situations they are placed in. Delpit's book is a great eye opener to the types of problems that will arise in any classroom, especially those that are diverse in multiple ways. She offers her information clean cut and straightforward, giving the real story to those who read her novel. It has prepared me beyond what I expected from a book, and I feel it would do the same to other prospective teachers looking for the real answers

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2009

    Reivew

    Personally I would not recommend Other People's Children to future teachers. I found the book to be a little on the boring side, however the book is very informative for beings interested in working at a school. What I did like about the book was the conflicts it presented. I found this book to be slightly racist in quite a few parts. Many of the stereotypes it presented though do hold true.
    Things like don't call on the Native American students because they don't like it or all Asian students excel at math are some of those. Delpit explains that these generalizations are extremely destructive towards a child's ego and education. If the children are at-risk or come from a bad home life these stereotypes become true. A change needs to be made moving from stereotyping children to accepting that you know nothing at all about them. I agree with this for the most part although it's not just minorities.
    There are stereotypes for white children attending school in America as well. Luckily she does address this. It's not as much as we need to catch anyone up, but more a question of how can we make our teachers better. This book tries to offer this solution by explaining the importance of every student. Teachers have a ton of students each semester to teach. What Delpit says is to try and get to know everyone. All students learn in a different way. Whether it's reading, lectures, homework, or peer group activities. This is a tricky task indeed. Every student is a puzzle the first time you meet them. Getting to know them requires understanding pieces at a time. So many factors must be taken into account such as their socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexuality, etc. Delpit wants to push away from the stereotypes, and do much more communicating with the students.
    The book was interesting, but not really eye-opening. I learned a few different stories and scenarios, but it wasn't really new information. It does a really good job showing what is going on in parts of America and parts of the world, but since every child is different every teacher all over the world should strive to understand their students. Not just those in America. I wouldn't recommend this book because it didn't hold my attention for very long, but I won't go as far as to say it's useless in a classroom setting like ours.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    This is a great book!!!

    Lisa Delpits book, Other People's Children, is a wonderful collection of different stories, experiences, and trials that teachers experience with their children in a teaching career. Delpit exposes the different problems that are present within the education field. One of which is the continued stress on end of grade testing. In one extreme example, Delpit tells the story of an old man laying on his death bed saying that his only regret in life is that he did not do better on his tests in his education career. Another story that Delpit integrates in her lessons has to do with a concentration camp survivor who writes a letter to a teacher. The survivor tells the teacher how he is skeptical of education because he does not understand how people with a college degree could kill so many people at a commands notice. This raises an interesting question for an educator, how can what you are teaching be taken the wrong way and what do you do to avoid this. Delpit also discusses race differences between white educators and black students. In a dialogue between a teacher and a young boy named Joey, the young boy states that "maybe they ought to come up with another kind of.maybe Black English or something." This is not the way a young child should be thinking. This makes him conscious about his language and who he is, where teachers should just be praising him for what he does correct, not discouraging what he does wrong. There are bigger issues than how someone speaks; so long as they know the correct way to speak. My favorite chapter in the book is Education in a Multicultural Society: Our Future's Greatest Challenge. Delpit states that there are two types of culture clashes and three types of teachers, "black teachers, none of whom are afraid of the black kids; the white teachers, a few of whom are not afraid of black kids; and the largest group of white teachers, who are all afraid of black kids." This is a sad truth that young children face this always, stereotyping. Delpit does a fantastic job describing the many different types of stereotypes that African-American children face with their teachers. Overall I would recommend this novel to any student who is considering going into secondary education. The reader will become educated in real problems that we face in today's classrooms with issues such as race.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    the biggest problem in our education system

    Other People's Children gives the readers a first hand look at what is going wrong in our educational system right now. For years teacher's have been giving up on children that are from different ethnic and social backgrounds under the assumption that they were simply incapable of learning the material. These kids, because of where and how they were raised, were never given a chance to succeed in public schools.
    Other People's Children presents many facts that back up these claims and as a future teacher I plan on making my number one goal designing my lesson to be beneficial to students of all different types of diversity. It only makes sense that if a student speaks a completely different dialect than what you are teaching your subject matter in it will be next to impossible for the student to pick the skills and the new dialect up at the same time. Having attended the public educational system recently, all the points that Delpit made were painfully familiar in my mind. The African American kids were always viewed as bad students. This caused many teachers to give up on them without giving them a fair shot to do something with their lives. Many of the African American friends that I went to elementary, middle, and high school with ended up dropping out because of the damage done by teachers who didn't know how to get through to these kids and show them that they were smart and capable of being good students.

    One of the most interesting things to me about this book was when she talked about her time in New Guinea. This just proved that the same problems we experienced with diverse learners here are going on all across the world. These students, like our own here in the United States, were taught in different dialects than how they were raised their entire life. This caused students who were more than capable of excelling in school to give up because they believed they were unable to learn. What she later did in building lesson plans that were based around their current dialect brought these kids back and showed them that they did have the intelligence to complete school.

    In conclusion, it is crucial as future educators that we are read and take to heart all the lessons that are taught in this book. Without a doubt all these problems will arise in our teaching career and it is up to us to not just shun these kids like most all teachers in their past have done. Instead we must look at our students as a whole, not just the ones who are excelling, but the ones struggling with maintaining passing grades. We must ask ourselves why this student is going down the wrong path. Most importantly though, what steps can we do to help this student learn and believe in themselves again.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Review of Other People's Children

    Other People's Children is book about education in a multicultural society. Ms. Delpit, the author, is an African-American teacher who is concerned with the lack of progress is teaching minority students in America. In this book she discusses why this is such a problem and gives solutions that she believes will help classroom teachers better serve minority students and diverse learners.
    The language that Delpit uses in this book is quite in your face. It is an open and honest discussion about how the current system in education is failing our minority students horribly. She makes many points about how communication between students of color and white teachers is gap that needs to be closed if we are to better serve these students. One of the first examples she gives is the Bay Area writing project that focuses on teaching fluency to students instead of the usual drudgery of technical skill. She claims that minority students are sometimes very fluent in writing but teachers misunderstand this and make them continue to practice their fluency instead of working on the technical skills they will need in today's world to succeed. Minority teachers who have tried to express their opinions of the Bay Area Writing Project are continually left out of the discussion and not enough is being done to answer some of the problems this type of writing instruction leaves us asking, like why are minority students not showing the same progress with this method as other students are.
    The overall tone of this book is one that explicitly points out the many failures today's education system produces for minority students, but there is also a hopeful tone present in the text. One thing that the book points out is how education classes for future teachers continually focuses on statistics that point out how diverse learners keep coming up short in the classroom. This kind of indoctrination leads to low levels of expectations from teachers coming out of college and going into the work place, as well as leaving minority teachers out of the discussion for the most part. The author suggests that we instead focus on the promising stories of teachers who have been successful in teaching minority students from different backgrounds and other diverse learners. Many of their successful methods are ones that are rarely taught in education classes because we do not put enough emphasis on them. Delpit also suggests that in classes with high percentages of minority students, teachers should take the time to incorporate these students' heritage and culture into the classroom instead of always discussing what dead, rich, white men did, as is the case in most classrooms unfortunately.
    Other People's Children is a book that I would recommend for any future teacher, and especially those who are looking to teach in impoverished urban areas with high populations of minority students and diverse learners. Delpit gives the reader a lot of food for thought and brings much to the discussion of race and education, an issue that is of utmost importance in today's world. There is so much in this book that will surely be helpful to any teacher looking for new and exciting ways to reach the students that need help the most. This book should be on every educator's book shelf and is sure to be a big help in answering many of the important questions that we must answer today.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    A Great Read for Education Students and Teachers

    Lisa Delpit's book, Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom is an informative, interesting read. Delpit pulls no punches here, giving her points straight and clear. Fair warning, though, some people may be offended by the references to race, class, and culture that the text focuses on. Her points alternate with examples taken from real life experiences, making the things she talks about seem more relevant. Some of the stories are alarming, not overtly, but in the way they show the ignorance and intolerance rife in modern school systems. Delpit highlights through the collection of essays that comprise this text the fact that students learn differently depending on their life experiences and upbringing. After offering the statement of the problem, she gives examples of it happening, or quotes by those who have experienced it, and then attempts to offer solutions when she is able.
    The main point of this book, however, is to open the eyes of those who read it, in the hopes that educators might in the future be more prepared to cater to individual learners instead of trying to teach children as a faceless mass. As Delpit writes, "the question is not.how to create the perfect "culturally matched" learning situation for each ethnic group, but.to recognize when there is a problem for a particular child and how to seek its cause" (167). The individuality of the student, regardless of diverse conditions, is important to preserve, and Delpit is interested in helping educators separate the diverse learner from the masses. Each student has different learning needs based on their life experiences and upbringing, and no student can be allowed to fail if an instructor can stop it from happening.
    I would recommend this text to current instructors as well as those studying education. It makes good points, offers good advice, and, most importantly of all, has the potential to open the eyes of those who read it. In today's society of increasing awareness of the importance of diversity, especially in the classroom, it is about time we stop trying to perform a sort of blanket-education on our students. We should attempt to teach them, not the 'idea' of them, and Delpit's text states this with a wonderful brand of poignant persuasiveness that might throw its readers' preconceived notions about education to the winds-if only they will let it.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    Leaving a Lasting Impression

    When you think about school, what comes to mind? Perhaps you see a child-like version of yourself in a classroom that you enjoy and feel valued in. Or maybe, you find yourself being swallowed by repressed memories that put you in a period of your life where you felt empty and misunderstood showing the lasting scars that remain after an unfulfilling education. While unimaginable for many of us, the second description is a sad reality that shows how our educational system fails to teach all children equitably. But how can this be!? How can one of the world's most powerful nations be letting its' citizens down in regards to education?
    Lisa Delpit's Other People's Children answers these complex questions with remarkable ease, especially in regards to the problems that minority students face. This ground-breaking book encourages readers to view education, pedagogy and consequently society as a whole, in a totally innovative way. Deplit's passionate and realistic account of the unheard voices of minority student's needs in American schools exposes the quintessential flaws that are currently plaguing the field of education, which are critical for future educators to understand and repair. Delpit provides a rational and pragmatic voice for this generation of parents and students that have been continually misunderstood and overlooked by the "culture of power" that dominates our society's educational decisions. By exposing these short-comings, Lisa Delpit prolifically shows that forging new educational ideologies in regards to minority students is the essential first step for closing the gaps that have been perpetually getting wider in our schools, which is precisely why this book is the perfect read for advocates of reformed education, perspective educators, and current teachers alike.
    A particular chapter that left a lasting impression on me was "Language Diversity and Learning." This chapter discussed the tendency of teachers to continually correct students on the "form" of speech that they use. This is most prominent in reading instruction, as teachers focus on form rather than function. For example, Delpit gives the example of young girl pronouncing the word "brother" as "bruver". The teacher ignored the fact that the child understood the material and focused on negatively intervening to criticize the child's dialect because of the way she had learned to speak at home, which makes the child question her own ability. These constant corrections can cause emotional trauma and leave students feeling empty and under-valued, like the student that I mentioned in my introduction. This case alone opened my eyes, Delpit incorporates countless other experiences, situations, and studies that conclude similar findings- which will forever change the way you view education no matter who you are.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    A book that should be made into a documentary

    Brilliantly written for the prospective educator; Lisa Delpit delves into the inner sanctums of that which makes a diverse teacher. She has knowledge of firsthand accounts of our recent history as Americans. History of the good and the bad will be blasted about these pages so that you, the reader, can reveal internally to the real person in the mirror. This book makes you look yourself up and down, inside and out.

    The issues in her book come to life with real narratives, quotes and connections that will be brought forth within the reader. Lisa Delpit's book will compose a symphony, not any symphony, but it will be your own by the inspiration of the book. It is a symphony that will resonate into your style, way of life and pedagogy. It will shine light on the blinded conscience and awaken, perhaps, a new beginning.

    You will find answers to problems faced by diversity; some problems that you may not know existed. Answers to provocative questions such as what Lisa Delpit asks, "Why do the refrains of progressive educational movements seem to be lacking in the diverse harmonies, the variegated rhythms, and the shades of tone expected in a truly heterogeneous chorus?". Wrapping our minds around such questions will certainly expose us to ourselves as individuals and ponder about our law makers decisions.

    I highly recommend that students who wish to pursue education should read this compelling book. If you wish to make a difference in all of your students' lives it is imperative to understand beyond understanding, which this book helps you realize.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    Other People's Children review (does use examples from book)

    I have currently been reading Lisa Delpit's Other People's Children. Lisa covers every topic that a new teacher may have a question about and then some. Even older teachers will appreciate this book. Lisa talks in great details on racism in the classroom, racism that teachers may have, differences between different types of English, classroom professionalism, etc. Delpit's goal is to make teachers aware of the cultural gap and to help fill that void.
    Other People's Children begins with Lisa Delpit describing her own experiences with racism and language barriers throughout her college career. She let's us envisioned her first few years of teaching and her realization of what it means to speak "Standard English", but to be proud of the culture that you may come from. Delpit travels all around the world and let's us know how teachers feel about "Standard English". For example, a young black girl asked her why she spoke like a white person even though Lisa is African-American. In Alaska the teachers know that speaking "Standard English" is good, but that to learn the local dialect is just as important. Papua New Guinea is the same way; the schools are set up to teach both "Standard English" and the dialect of the region. Delpit let's us know, as teachers, that learning language isn't just about how well you can do on the state exam. It's a way to express your heritage and bridge the cultural gap that government administration seems to be trying to ignore that there is one.
    After the discussion on different types of English (who knew?) Delpit dives head first into the cultural gap that exist between the school and the communities which they serve. First describing the way black male students behave in the classrooms and how they need stern directive sentences. Not in-directive statements which they may not understand or take as a sign of weakness. I have to say when I first read it I was skeptical, but just recently I helped lead an activity at a local high school and using direct commands the students responded very well. Also Delpit goes into what the community expects out of the schools. How we as teachers should get to know our school systems which we teach in, so as to better understand where our students come from and the community standards which they must face. For example, she speaks about a Latino community which feeds into an elementary school. The teachers that worked there could not understand why the mother's would drop their children off inside the school early in the morning instead of a the playground like they were instructed to. The teachers did not understand that the fact in the Latino community that six year olds are still considered babies and need a mother's attention at all times during the day. So if the mother wasn't there the teacher had to fill the gap.
    In conclusion, Other People's Children really helps teachers realize the importance of "Standard English" and getting to know your students' outside of the classroom. As much as we don't like to hear, but businesses all have some form of English which they like to use and if you don't speak or write it you may not get hired. Delpit has re-opened the door to express ourselves culturally. She also has shown the importance of getting to know your students outside the classroom because you can transform your teaching to fit their learning styles. I'd recommend this book to all teachers for it will make you more equip to provide for all your students' needs.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    Other People's Children

    Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit is a very inspiring book. This book dives into the problems that you will face as a teacher and the diversity issues you will need to overcome. This is a very useful tool because it not only tells you what you might run into but how you might go about working out the problems.
    This book dives deep to the core of the issues you will face as a teacher. Delpit not only presents the issues but gives examples from her own experience and the experience of her colleagues. This is where this book becomes real it gives you opportunities to see how things may come up and different ways to deal with them. Delpit addresses so many issues and that's what makes this book such a great tool for future teachers.
    The most inspiring part for me was when Delpit talks about how important culture is in the classroom. I think from my own experience and observation I see how important it is to know your students and be able to connect with them. Connecting with your students will allow you so many more opportunities to prosper in the classroom. Opening up you doors to the diversity that you share allows for better learning to occur.
    This book helps you to realize that diversity is something that you need to welcome. In your classroom welcoming diversity will not only allow you to grow to be a better teacher but also help you grow to be a better person. Delpit does an amazing job showing you just how much a teacher can impact a student. I think that this book is a great inspiration for future teachers because it gets you excited about teaching and shows you the great challenges and rewards that teaching brings to your life.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Other People's Children

    Lisa Delpit's work Other People's Children is a must read for anyone in or getting into the education field. It speaks of the disenfranchised students who are forced into a life in the back corner of the classroom and never taught. She speaks with such clarity that missing her point is hard to do. She offers critical insight on the most divisive topic of our generation, diversity in the classroom. Other People's Children offers a ton of information in quite the small package. At a little under two hundred pages it can be considered a quick read, but speed-readers beware this seemingly short work deals with some very critical points and Lisa Delpit spares no detail in describing the educational genocide occurring in America today.
    Delpit's work really makes you think about who you are and what your role in society really is. She exposes the ugly truth of racial struggles in the classrooms of America today while providing solutions to combat the culture of power and other major issues. She describes situations from just around the corner to across the world. She raises questions and gives suggestions. I remember my reflection after one chapter on a school in New Guinea "I almost wish the United States Public Education would take on a role of creating schools that not only taught literacy and oral competency but cultural education as well. I think this system of teaching students values and beliefs is a great idea which was supported by the parents who said their children were more willing to help out around the house. Well educated, culturally versed, and responsible; could a school ask for better results?"
    Overall, Lisa Delpit provides a firsthand approach to changing our educational system. A change I think we should all be willing to consider.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Other People's Children

    Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by: Lisa Delpit is a must read for anyone majoring in education. It is an eye opener for people who grew up in a less than diverse background. Being an education student who read her book, I found that she offered useful advice about how to communicate with students from various backgrounds.
    When I first read this book, I felt that it was too biased towards African American students and that is seemed to blame white teachers for the problems of minority students. After delving deeper into the book I realized she wasn't criticizing white teachers specifically but the educational system as a whole which is insensitive to the cultural differences that cause students to learn differently. She allows the reader more insight into varying points of view that we may not otherwise have experienced due to the lessening numbers of teachers from diverse backgrounds by using real life examples from her own experiences and those of her colleagues. I especially enjoyed the chapter about the preschool students in Papua, New Guinea who were taught their own culture and language first and then moved on to learning English. I believe that it would be a valuable way to teach our own students another language.
    Delpit's book brings attention to the current problems in our educational system, raising awareness for the teachers, administrators, and parents in order to allow all students to receive the best education that we can possibly give. It is a valuable resource for the above mentioned people, as well as students whose major is education.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

    Read This Book!

    Lisa Delpit's book Other People's Children gives aspiring teachers a personal perspective to the diverse classrooms they will eventually have to face. She gives her readers personal insight from her experiences. She also incorporates interviews she had with colleagues and other educational figures. This book gives future teachers a chance to think about the situations they will face when they step into their schools and classrooms. She discusses topics of diversity. She includes issues of differences of cultural backgrounds, linguistic diversity, stereo-typing, methods of teaching, etc. Reading this book will prepare future teachers for the dilemmas they will soon experience.
    Delpit stresses the fact that we as future teachers must decide on which perspective to atake on the issue of diversity. She gives the readers an ultimatum.

    We can continue to view diversity as a problem, attempting to force all differences into standardized boxes. Or we can recognize that diversity of thought, language, and worldview in our classrooms cannot only provide and exciting educational setting, but can also prepare our children for the richness of living in an increasingly diverse national community. (Delpit, 67)

    Throughout the book, Delpit suggests we take her real life examples and use them to make ourselves not only a better teacher but a better person. As a aspiring mathematics high school teacher, I learned the importance of understanding the meaning of word usage in math problems and when explaining problems. She bluntly shares with her audience that we must be able to engage diversity with open arms. She shows how teachers can make their classrooms a "laboratory" for developing better outlooks on diversity on all levels. This book is a "must-read" for perspective teachers who have and questions about how they view diversity. Delpit shows her readers the existence of diversity and the importance of how it should be handled inside the classroom.

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