White Teacher Talks About Race / Edition 1

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Veteran teacher Julie Landsman leads the reader through a day of teaching and reflection about her work with high school students who are from a variety of cultures. She speaks honestly about issues of race, poverty, institutional responsibility, and white privilege by engaging the reader in the experiences of a day in the classroom with some of her remarkable students. Throughout the day, we meet bigotry head-on, struggle with questions of racial identity, and find cultural conflict in the corridors of the school building. Along the way, we come face to face with Tyrone, a young African-American student grappling with the realities of discrimination in suburbia. We encounter Sheila, a teenage mother struggling to raise her baby in poverty, and we get to know Sarah, a white girl living on the streets of Minneapolis. Through the author's eyes, we begin to understand the complexities of teaching in today's society and we learn within the pages of this book, if only just for a moment, what it feels like to be the other.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Informed by a compassionate intelligence and thousands of hours of urban teaching experience, this very personal book addresses issues so important that we often don't know how to speak about them. Instead of theorizing, Minneapolis-based Julie Landsman recounts stories from her 25 years at the head of the class. Whether you are white, black, Asian American, Latino American, or Native American, A White Teacher Talks About Race can teach you something. Unpat and unpatronizing.
...Landsman brings keen observation and empathy to her recollections of working as a writer and teacher with racially diverse students at a public high school in Minneapolis....She lifts some of those blinders in this insightful presentation on the intersection of race, poverty, and culture in an increasingly diverse nation.
...Landsman pushes for an ideal educational diversity while never departing from the concreteness of her own classroom, her students, and their shared daily challenges.
Chicago Tribune
Touching, graceful, and painfully honest...there's a humanity and frankness to Landsman's words.
— Mark Luce
Chicago Tribune - Mark Luce
Touching, graceful, and painfully honest...there's a humanity and frankness to Landsman's words.
Peggy McIntosh
If you are one of the teachers exhausted by the ways that systemic race and class dynamics play out in school, Landsman's stories may give you courage....This is a teacher I would cherish for my children: wise about power dynamics, committed to justice, engaged with students, and never self-righteous.
David Haynes
Julie Landsman is courageous. In a time when racial rhetoric has gone stale, and when too many have thrown up their hands in despair, Ms. Landsman's clear-eyed observations are a tonic. This painfully honest and sometimes troubling book challenges readers to think critically about what is going on in our classrooms and in our society. A White Teacher Talks About Race is required reading for anyone interested in the future of American schools.
William Ayers
Julie Landsman breaks the silence, taking us into the lives of her propulsive students, grounding her reflections on race in these energetic and engaging young people as they negotiate the tricky terrain of identity within an American multiplicity.
Mary Moore Easter
Julie Landsman has said everything I, as a black woman, always wanted to say to white people...Landsman has assembled a moving series of stories and reflections which throw a shaft of light on every day but often ignored racial/cultural collisions...This book gives me tremendous hope because it demonstrates how one can understand back and forth across the lines of race and culture without giving up anything dear to our identity. I want everyone I know to read it.
Natalie Goldberg
Unique, vital kids and a great teacher, yet it is also larger than that...Inspiring, gorgeous, heart-breaking prose...A must-read for anyone who claims to be alive, awake, alert—or who wants to get there. This is an important book!
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this account of her years teaching in a multi-ethnic Midwestern high school, Landsman (Basic Needs) discusses the life lessons she learned from her street-smart, determined students: people of color often have to struggle with being the only representative of their race at a social gathering or in class; white people can never understand how it feels to be shadowed by suspicious store managers or prejudiced cops; simply showing up to class can be a monumental task when one is struggling to feed the baby or find a place to sleep at night. Given her self-confessed privileged background, Landsman's intellectual and personal rapport with her students is impressive; they seem wonderfully comfortable telling her about their relationships, aspirations, fears and failings. The reader craves more nuanced revelations from Landsman herself, however. While she gamely tells us that white teachers "cannot reach certain students the way someone of their own skin color or culture can reach them," readers may want to know if she ever catches herself feeling ambivalent about her students, doubting their abilities for a moment or questioning her own capacity for unbiased teaching. Readers drawn to this title may be disappointed that Landsman's observations about racism in education generally reiterate arguments already established by other writers, such as Beverly Tatum in Why Do All the Black Kids Sit Together in the Cafeteria? Still, this balanced, quietly impassioned account affords insight into race relations in the classroom and will appeal to parents and educators who are struggling with these issues. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Leading readers through one composite day of teaching, Landsman focuses on high school students and their complicated lives who attend an academic support program in Minneapolis. In introducing the reader to her multicultural students—African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, and white—she shares glimpses of their lives as they come in and out of her classroom. Some are involved with drugs, some are teen mothers, others have spent time in prison, and one young woman is homeless, but all are endeavoring to complete high school. As participant observer through her first-person, freely flowing narrative, Landsman draws readers in, enabling them to see her students and to hear the hopes, fears, difficulties, and triumphs as the teens interact with each other and with their teacher. The students' voices bring their personal perspectives to bear upon issues surrounding race and education, including how they contend with peers who attempt to dissuade them from going back to classes. Landsman writes frankly about the intersections of race, culture, class, gender, education, and white privilege. Too often, she writes, there is a refusal to talk about race or racial differences, but this is a cop-out. She writes about the need for inclusive classrooms and curricula. "Is it too much to encompass the mixture of all these kids' lives, in what they read, in whom they see?" Landsman, writing from the standpoint of a white teacher, acknowledges her own mistakes and assumptions in dealing with issues of race and difference so that others might learn. She points out the inequities of an educational system wherein there are schools in which "the only gifted program is a whiteprogram." Landsman's reflections have import for all who teach and work with teens. Source Notes. 2001, Scarecrow Education, 171p, $22.95 Trade pb. Ages Adult. Reviewer: Hilary Crew
Library Journal
Experienced teacher and Minneapolis writer Landsman (Basic Needs: A Year with Street Kids in a City School) here describes a typical day in an inner-city, alternative high school program. She discusses the daily trials and triumphs of her students, 75 percent or more of whom are not of European descent and many with family difficulties, children of their own to support, and daily confrontations with violence and racism. Through her experiences, Landsman portrays some of the practices that work with "nontraditional" students, such as having them write from different perspectives and offering more inclusive lessons about history, and she points out the flaws of current "one size fits all" approaches to education. This readable book conveys its message simply and powerfully. A superb addition to public and academic libraries. Mark Bay, Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. Lib., Indianapolis Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This book consists of a series of reflections by the author, who takes the reader through a full day of teaching and engaging with students. The vignettes discuss race, poverty, institutional responsibility, and white privilege. Landsman has taught in the Minneapolis Public Schools for 25 years and currently teaches at Hamline University in the teacher training programs. The lack of index may not be a real problem due to the anecdotal nature of the book. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578861811
  • Publisher: R&L Education
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Edition description: 2005 Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 638,736
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Landsman is Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Until her recent retirement, she had spent many years working with both troubled and gifted students in middle and high schools in the Minneapolis Public School System. She continues to teach in Minneapolis as a Writer in the Schools. Ms. Landsman presently has a monthly column in the Skyway News in Minneapolis.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction Our Changing World: A Cause for Celebration Chapter 2 1 Before School: What I Bring Chapter 3 2 Waiting for First Hour Chapter 4 3 First Hour: Recognizing Oneself Chapter 5 4 Second Hour: History and Literature Chapter 6 5 Third Hour: Student Voices as the Center of the Class Chapter 7 6 Lunch Hour: Students' Lives Chapter 8 7 Fourth Hour: Connections Chapter 9 8 Interlude: Twenty-Four Seven Chapter 10 9 Fifth Hour: Representing Chapter 11 10 My White Power World Chapter 12 11 Sixth Hour: Expectations Chapter 13 12 After School: Training Teachers Chapter 14 13 At Night: Community Chapter 15 14 Living in Different Worlds Chapter 16 15 Celebrations at School Chapter 17 16 Celebrations at Home Chapter 18 17 Resistance: The Power of White Activism Part 19 Epilogue Part 20 A Final Note to My Readers Part 21 References Part 22 Acknowlegments Part 23 About the Author

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2001

    Hand Wringing and Political Correctness Amok

    I found this book to be full of the standard pap that people have come to expect from educators who don't teach. I was disappointed that race is only addressed to provide victimhood ammunition for years to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2001

    A Must-Have

    This book opens the doors for readers, be they future teachers, retired teachers, teachers, etc, to experience in what Julie Landsman finds joy. Her story based on her life experiences is open to the public and she uses herself as her examples. She also uses students to portray attitudes, feelings, and success once given a chance. She describes in detail knowing well what the stereotypes are and attempts to break them. Her fear is that she creates new stereotypes. It is an easy read. It is a heartfelt read. It talks about a revolution!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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