In chapter seven, Cross-Cultural Confusion in Teacher Assessments, Delpit discusses the ways teachers of other ethnic cultures are discriminated against during assessments due to differences in teaching styles and conversations skills. For example, African Americans and Natives had more recursive manners of speaking and tend to take longer breaks in their speaking. In terms of teaching style, minorities tend to focus on knowing the students and then teaching the content, where assessors are looking for teachers to focus primarily on teaching the content.
In chapter eight, the politics of teaching literature discourse, Delpit counters two of James Paul Gee’s arguments that he presents in his writings. The first is Gee’s belief that those not born into the dominant discourses find it difficult to acquire these discourses. The second belief she disagreed with was that a person born into one discourse will have major conflicts when acquiring another discourse due to the clash in values. Delpit emphasized that teaching students who have another discourse than mainstream discourse strengthens them and it allows them to have true freedom as they are able to succeed in all their worlds and communicate as they choose.
In chapter nine, Education in multicultural society, Delpit argues that we must recognize if there is a cultural problem, and seek to solve the problem. One way to solve cultural problems is to go to those who know the child best: the family. Delpit emphasizes the importance of listening parent suggestions, and asking for their opinions as a way to come to solutions leading to the student’s success. Delpit also mentions how important it is to make sure our expectations are high and don’t let prejudiced views on a cultural group (African-American, Asian-American) hinder proper instruction.
In chapter ten, Reflections on Other People’s Children, Herbert Kohl tells of his experience with first reading of Delpit’s essays, convincing her to make a book, and how he uses it in his college level classes, provoking great emotional reactions among his students. Kohl emphasizes that Delpit’s writing is not an attack on white teachers but instead is “a call for a sensible reconstruction of progressive education” to move beyond failure and raise our standards to lead to success (Delpit, 2006, pg. 187).
In chapter eleven, Teaching the Hard of Head, Charles M. Payne describes the “White Knight” who visits him, convinced he has the right way to teach and that his African American colleagues are failing, as they are much too structured (Delpit, 2006, pg. 189). Payne then aptly describes Other People’s Children as an “aspirin for a lack of self-awareness” (pg. 190). Payne views Delpits book as encouraging us to question our presumptions – leading the author to realize he might need to question his presumptions of his so called “White Knight.”
In chapter twelve, Other People’s Children: The Lasting Impact, Patricia Lesesne states that Delpit provides a true description of urban education. Lesesne describes her experience as a graduate student where the program was culturally aware and supportive of their students, something she feels in an anomaly. One striking sentence Lesesne writes is that being fair is not giving everyone the same thing, but giving everyone what they need.
In the article by Park (2011), he explores “identity formation process of recent Korean immigrants in an inner-city high school (620). Park believes Asians become model minorities as a coping mechanism as they balance school culture with home culture. These Asian Americans did not feel like real Americans because they were not English fluent whites. Park argues the Korean students adapted the model minority stereotype as a way to become honorary whites and Korean students even went as far as to socially punish Korean students who did not fit the stereotypical mold.
Piechura-Couture, Heins, and Tichenor (2011) looked at the role single gender education has on boys behavior, leading to a reduction in special education referrals. By interviewing boys who had participated in single gender schooling, the researchers found out that “Fifty-nine percent of the boys report their behavior as improved while participating in single-gender classrooms.” This same trend was echoed with African American boys specifically, with sixty three percent viewing their behavior as increasing with single gender schooling, thirteen percent higher than Caucasians view (fifty percent). Overall, African American boys stated an improvement in behavior (sixty-three percent), participation in class (seventy-five percent), attitude in school (sixty percent) and completed homework(sixty-three percent), over Caucasian (fifty, sixty-four, one, fifty, relatively) (Piechura-Couture, et al., 20 , 258).
I work with students who have decided to “not-learn” and as the teacher it is quite a frustrating process trying to engage them with the content. There is most likely a conflict between “us” and “them”, viewing their decision to not participate as a means to stand up for and preserve their identity. I will talk with the student and see if there is anything specific which is hindering them. I have yet to have them admit that a parent or their family does not place importance on school, but I have observed other parents explain that they are not that worried about their child’s Spanish grade since Spanish people can’t read and write anyways or that they didn’t do well in math as kids so they don’t expect their child to do well in math. This culture at home then gives students permission to “not-learn” in these classes.
Delpit, L. (2006). Other people’s children: cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: The New Press.
Piechura-Couture, K. Heins, E & Tichenor, M. (20011). The Boy Factor: Can Single-Gender Classes Reduce the Over-Representation of Boys in Special Education? Journal of Instructional Psychology, 38 (4), 255-263.
Park, G.C. (2011), Becoming a “Model Minority”: Acquisition, Construction and Enactment of American Identity for Korean Immigrant Students. Urban Review: Issues and Ideas in Public Education, 43 (5), 620-635.