Other People’s Children – Lisa Delpit

other people's children Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom begs to be read slowly and discussed in depth. It really made me reflect on my teaching as an intern, my teacher preparatory program (in which a vast majority of students and professors are White), and my decision to intern in the largest and most diverse district in my state.

Here are some bits I flagged along the way:

African-American teachers are more likely to see their Black students’ fluency with the English language than non-African-American teachers. The latter are more likely to find that their Black students have not yet mastered command of English, when, in fact, they have, although they show it differently.

The next step for these Black students is to teach them “skills” to communicate in the most socially acceptable way: the discourse of the majority and of White people, essentially. It must be taught not as an oppression tool but as a tool to liberate them, as a way to “cheat the system” in order to be successful in our White-dominated society.

Some ways to help students learn the skills of communicating in the code of the White majority include creating bidialectal dictionaries, role-plays, and creating a news show.

It is imperative that in our schools (and elsewhere) we hear the voices of minorities. Furthermore, it is the job of the majority to seek out those voices if they are not coming forth or being heard.

This quote (pg 26): “For many who consider themselves members of liberal or radical camps, acknowledging personal power and admitting participation in the culture of power is distinctly uncomfortable. On the other hand, those who are less powerful in any situation are more likely to recognize the power variable more acutely.”

White teachers (and adults in general) tend to give commands in the form of questions: “Can you hand that paper in now?” Black teachers and adults tend to be more clear and may say: “Turn in that paper now.” Black students, then, may not respond in the “correct” way to their White teachers due to cultural misunderstanding.