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The book “Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom” Report

The book “Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom” by Lisa Delpit provides detailed overview of popular progressive pedagogies ad special attention is paid to finding ways to deliver the best learning for all students. The central argument is that modern education systems often fail to respond to learning needs of diverse students. We are living in diverse world and every classroom is represented by linguistically and culturally diverse students.

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In the book Lisa Delpit tends to relate progressive learning methods with dominant culture norms.

Delpit claims that mismatch is pervasive and educational institutions should teach students considering their cultural roots as students from non-dominant communities find it difficult to comprehend new culture and to learn. Therefore, the central thesis of the book is that learning theory and learning process are profoundly rooted in the culture and, thus, they can’t be ignored when teaching diverse students. The title of the book is metaphoric as, in such a way, the author shows that our world is culturally diverse and other people’s children should be paid more attention during the studying process.

Language and learning peculiarities of colour students is often being repressed and assailed. Statistics is really shocking – too many professionals tend to fully ignore cultural factors when they work with students from other courtiers. When students are ‘other people’s children’, the author means that those students are non-white population. Delpit combines theoretical framework with practice and, therefore, her recommendations and reflections are well grounded. As far as the author is educational and sociolinguist anthropologist, analytics and criticism are both present.

The author describes practical implementation of her theories and shows that after two decades of practices progressive pedagogies do have benefits. For example, the author describes her experiments in the culturally diverse classroom in Native Alaskan schools and in Inner City. Despite educational settings are located in different places, the results are apparent: progressive pedagogies are of great importance as children feel more comfortable and more confident when teachers consider their cultural peculiarities.

The first section “Controversies Revisited” defends Delpit’s evocative ideas. Her essay “The Silenced Dialogue” is a critical response for essay “Skills and Other Dilemmas of a Progressive Black Educator”. Delpit reproaches advocates of whole language because she believes that writing process instructions should be changed and should match learning needs of children from non-dominant cultures. The second section “Lessons from Home and Abroad: Other Cultures and Communities” offers two informative and factful articles fleshing vision of schools.

The author shares her personal international experiences and illustrates two conflicts. In such a way, she is willing to maximize the educational potential culturally diverse students. The conflicts are defined as the following: firstly, context vs. the de-contextualizing rituals of mainstream schooling; secondly, human connectedness vs. the dehumanizing, heritage-destroying processes. These articles prove that Delpit’s advice is seasoned and synthesized from perspectives of educators of color.

The third section “Teachers’ Voices: Rethinking Teacher Education for Diversity” discusses American dilemma of cultural disparities in teacher-student interactions, and it is known that Delpit, for he reasoning and progressive ideas, has gained a reputation of being fearless as she tends to convey perspectives of educators of color, in particular, when disputing the popular wisdom of mainstream. The author shows that a power imbalance is still present in most American classrooms. In particular, power imbalance exists in increasingly diverse public schools.

Delpit writes that “one would have to be completely off-target not to realize that Blacks and other people of color often get the short end of the stick when it comes to commanding and exercising power in educational settings”. (Delpit, 1995) Therefore, many argue that Delpit’s reading is thought-provoking and especially valuable. Delpit says that power imbalance may result in racial and gender conflicts in classrooms and the quality and quantity of learning will be negatively affected. Learning outcomes will be doubtful.

The author uses thoughtful and measured terms when she tries to explain how parents, students and teachers from diverse groups should develop ingenious means of resisting dominant-group incursion. Ample evidence is offered to show that dominant-group school personnel often fail to interpret fully the knowledge base and, as a result, the potential of non-white students is stifled, and the mark in their assessment is ultimately missing. The work provides corrective responses: “This combination of power and otherness is what this book is all about.

Black, white, Indian, Hispanic or Asian, we must all find some way to come to terms with these two issues. When we teach across the boundaries of race, class or gender — indeed when we teach at all — we must recognize and overcome the power differential, the stereotypes and the other barriers which prevent us from seeing each other. Those efforts must drive our teacher education, our curriculum development, our instructional strategies, and every aspect of the educational enterprise.

Until we can see the world as others see it, all the educational reforms in the world will come to naught”. (Delpit, 1995) Personal Reflection I think that the book “Other People’s Children” should become a ground for teaching for many white teachers. The book is enlightening and empowering as it offers new approaches to teaching. Lisa Delpit is innovative in her filed as she recommends considering cultural roots when teaching students from non-dominant cultures.

The book is reasoned and the author invites the audience to understanding the learning needs of diverse students, as well as provides overview of realities of multicultural schooling stressing that every student from non-dominant culture faces a number of challenges. In my opinion, the author is trying to make modern educators realize that education should be improved and such issues as ethnicity, gender and nationality should be paid more attention.

One more positive moment is that educational needs of individuals are quite different and professional educators should find ways how to respond to needs of every student. The book is divided into three parts and each part conveys important message. For example, the first section stresses the importance of literacy and literature in modern schools, whereas the second section discusses the impact of culture on education system. Finally, the third section provides recommendations how to make changes in education system and how to teach multicultural classrooms.

Mainstream education is associated with dominant education and it is a pity that dominant culture is related to the culture of urban professionals and business world. In other words, dominant culture is the culture represented by white population, middle-class individuals and college educated population. I like the way the author tries to assure the audience that the majority of students are African-American students from low-income families and their rights should not be neglected and ignored as they are personalities and they deserve better living, good education and position in society.

Education and discrimination should not come along. I agree with the author that culture has significant impact on education as, for example, non-white students tend to have their own code of language and behavioural patterns and, thus, they often lack skills for establishing Standard English. Knowledge is limited for children from non-dominant cultures and the main reason is lack of basic knowledge and instructional skills. Delpit recommends setting the same standards for all students disregarding their gender and nationality.

The problem is that not many professional educators are interested in building and enforcing necessary knowledge for students. Modern society teaches individuals to be well-educated and well-informed of surrounding. Nevertheless, a series of problems is presented in modern American schools. The most important problem is that many teachers don’t think of the student’s future – they simply fulfil their responsibilities and nothing more, but it is wrong as teachers should get their students through particular class and prepare the road for future.

Educators and parents must encourage students to learn and to display their abilities and desires. Individuals, disregarding culture and gender, should be allowed to express their feelings, emotions and fears through experiences. Moreover, students should be allowed to use their words and teachers should guide them. Teachers should provide students with more freedom; they should not correct students, but rather to guide them. Fluency of language must be of top priority. Summing up, the book allows teachers to recognize the changes and patterns which remain unrecognized in educational sphere.