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Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit

Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit. Mark Hartman 11.131 2/12/09. Overview. Nature of the problem in cultural conflict Big theme I: The Culture of Power Define Examples Solutions

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Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit

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  1. Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroomby Lisa Delpit Mark Hartman 11.131 2/12/09

  2. Overview • Nature of the problem in cultural conflict • Big theme I: The Culture of Power • Define • Examples • Solutions • Big theme II: Failure to listen and give validation to others’ experience • Define • Examples • Solutions • Case studies

  3. The Problem • Each cultural group has different “codes and rules for discourse” • Interaction between people from different cultural groups is hampered by the differences in these codes. • Marti example (169) • At home, students from different cultures do not gain facility with the “culture of power” typically present in schools. • The “home rules” are still of value • From a black parent: “My kid knows how to be black--you all teach them to be successful in the white man’s world.”

  4. The Problem • Only becoming more important: • “Minority majority” schools in 23 of 25 largest cities • Nationally, up to 40% non-white children in classroom • 10% non-white teachers

  5. The Solution • The “culture of power” must be… • explicit in the classroom • experienced as useful in the wider world. • Students choose when to use a particular “culture,” but are lost without the choice • “…pretending that gatekeeping points don’t exist is to ensure that many students will not pass through them.” • Resolution found not through big reform movements, but “in some basic understandings of who we are and how we are connected and disconnected from one another.”

  6. Big Idea I: The Culture of Power • 5 Aspects of power • Issues of power are enacted in classrooms. • There are codes or rules for participating in power; that is, there is a “culture of power.” • The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power. • If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier. • Those with power are frequently least aware of--or least willing to acknowledge--its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence.

  7. Culture of Power: Example • “Process vs. skills” in literacy: • Progressive white teachers: “Let me help you find your voice. I promise not to criticize one note as you search for your own song.” • Explicit expectations are oppressive • Black teachers: “I’ve heard your song loud and clear. Now, I want to teach you to harmonize with the rest of the world.”

  8. Culture of Power: Examples • East Indian job interview candidate (27) • Oral interactions • Middle-class “townspeople” • Is this where the scissors belong? • You want to do your best work today. • Black teachers • Put those scissors on that shelf. • Put your name on the papers and make sure to get the right answer for each question.

  9. Culture of Power: Example • Derivation of authority • Blacks: “the authoritative person gets to be a teacher because she is authoritative.” • Non-black, middle class: “the teacher is the authority because she is the teacher.”

  10. A reverence for “Decontexutalized text” • Culture of power: • Words in written form are most important to us. • Include ALL relevant information to make yourself understood. (Especially in science and math!) • Other cultures: • Context (“with” text) is at LEAST as important if not more. • Others assume a shared background so you can understand and make connections yourself.

  11. Decontextualized text: Example • Anglo teachers: Attend to what is SAID. • Native American teachers: Back up what is said with physical actions • Smacks of Fred Jones (98) • Role call

  12. Decontextualized text: Example • Study of Japanese college students in university speech class (Yan) • Rude to be explicit in developing an argument that includes information already known to the audience. (145)

  13. Decontextualized text: Example • Native American frustration with explaining how you solve a problem, once it’s already done! (99)

  14. Decontextualized text: Example • Athabaskan way of teaching (101) • “The purpose of education is to learn to die satiated with life.” -Kwageley, Yupik Eskimo scientist

  15. Culture of power: Problem • Primary goal of education? • For children to become autonomous, develop who they are without arbitrary standards forced on them. • For parents of color: That PLUS help them learn the rules to be successful. • “But that’s the school’s job” = poor parents uncaring?

  16. Culture of power: Solutions • From literacy • Each speaker makes OWN decision in the real world • Provide exposure to alternate forms • Allow practice “in contexts that are nonthreatening, have a real purpose, and are intrinsically enjoyable.” • Example (68)

  17. Culture of power: Solutions • Vilis Tokples Pri-Skul of Papua New Guinea • 30-40% speak English • Tok Pisin more universal, but limited grammatical structure and colonial racist overtones • Tok Ples of limited use due to geography • Which do we choose? (87)

  18. Culture of Power: Solutions • You must consistently prove the characteristics that give you authority: • Exhibition of personal power • Respectful interpersonal relationships • Strong belief that all can learn • Push students to achieve standards • Hold attention with interactional features of cultural communicative style • Different attitudes about which characteristics make for a good teacher • Seek advice of adults (teachers and parents) from the same culture. • THUS, It is impossible to create a model for the good teacher without taking issues of culture and community context into account.

  19. Culture of power: Solutions • Be explicit in expectations and examples • In US, we are judged on product • Saphier & Gower: not only rubrics, but exemplars • Connect to “real life” instead of decontextualized problems • Fix a toy • Milk cans for farmer • Names in word problems

  20. Big theme II: Failure to listen and validate others’ experiences • The “silenced dialogue” with teachers (21) • “Most black and Native teachers interviewed believe accounts of their own experiences are not validated in teacher education programs or in their subsequent teaching lives.” • To address the problem, we must give credibility to educators’ perceptions of the problems.

  21. Failure to listen: Example • Dewey: Education students should bring personal experience to bear on ideas to be brought into the classroom. (125)

  22. Failure to listen: Solutions • Teachers should get in touch with their “independent intelligence” beyond experts. • Teacher trainees observe students in culturally diverse groups, so each can provide a unique perspective on what happens in the classroom.

  23. My reaction • I will be straightforward about WHY I think this is valuable and how to succeed. • I won’t ask you to do things that you have to guess at what I want. • I will also to listen to what YOU have to say about it and why YOU are not getting it, but you must think hard yourself to identify why you’re not getting it.

  24. Case Study • A female black student says “Doing this project is pointless, and besides, only the white kids in this class end up getting real help so they can get good grades.” • What questions do you ask yourself? • How do you respond?

  25. Case Study • You call the parent of a Latino student who has been very disruptive during group work on practice problems. • The parent responds, “He says you don’t teach him, and instead make him sit in a group with other students who also don’t get it. So, it sounds like it’s your problem.” • What questions do you ask yourself? • How do you respond?

  26. Case Study • All the black students in your class consistently sit together and work in lab groups together. • What questions do you ask yourself? • How do you respond?

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