Saturday, September 13, 2014

Check one please: Skills or Process

The Silenced Dialogue - Delpit

In this article I believe that Delpit chose the process of writing and the teaching of writing to start a conversation on how we educate children.  At the beginning of the article I disagreed with a lot of what Delpit said, I also believed that the teacher using the process approach to teaching was just lazy. It is in my experience that both approaches are needed.

As a read on I began to really understand that it wasn't just the writing process that Delpit was talking about.  On page 31 she says "students ultimately find themselves held accountable for knowing a set of rules about which no one has ever directly informed them."  I felt the same way, I felt that she was not directly informing her reader what she was trying to get at.  As I read on, I began to understand more that it was that she wanted students to be "taught the codes needed to participate fully in the mainstream of American life...they must also be helped to learn about the arbitrariness of those codes and about the power relationships they represent." (pg 45).

I really liked the excerpt on the Alaskan native teacher who taught the students the value in both language sets, Heritage Language and Formal English.  I think it is teachers like this one and the teacher that interviewed the Southern black high school student who are helping to move the pedagogy of educating students of diverse backgrounds ahead.  I like how this teacher in particular challenged Joey to determine if Black English is bad or good. This teacher really had his/her student thinking about language and the differences in language and how it is used.

It was hard as a white-middle class person to really understand/identify with some of these issues, but the real life interviews and examples really put it into perspective that I could understand.  If you look at the statistics, School teachers by race, I do not think I am alone in this.  Out of the almost 4 million teachers in the US, 83.5% of these teachers are white, non-hispanic.  Over all I have learned that it is important to always keep the lines of communication open, and really listen to what people have to say because we all have different life experiences.

Here is just another little article about educating black students and how government reform has helped or hindered. Dream Deferred


  1. I enjoyed the part about the Native Alaskan classroom as well, having the students use authentic strategies to demonstrate knowledge, then "converting" them to formal english is a strategy I have used often. Here's something I found which addresses the issue of black students with white teachers:

    Truly understanding the environment that students come from – rather than just knowing the statistics that describe their lives – can benefit teachers and students. I firmly believe that having more local teachers and more teachers who understand the city’s social and political problems can provide students with the training they need to be successful as students and as adults. If we replace tactics such as hiring teachers from outside of the city or state with methods that focus on hiring qualified local teachers, we can greatly improve the quality of education.

    from this article:

  2. I am going to add to your and Brian's appreciation for the Alaskan native teacher's lesson. When I read that part, I was reminded of Linda Christiansen who wrote Teaching for Joy and Justice: Reimagning the Language Arts Classroom. In the book, she gives shares her perspective from her 30 years in the classroom teaching students of color and other under-represented groups. She shares ideas for lessons where students can write about their shames and pains, where they can see how their lives intersect with history and literature, and realize that history could have bent toward justice much sooner if people hadn't been bystanders or made biased choices (some of this description is from her words in this YouTube video: Here is one example lesson called "Where I'm From Poems" where the students look at a model, are provided with tools to inspire their thinking, and ultimately write their own poem'm%20From.htm. Check her out!

  3. Agreed! I really enjoyed reading about that. I think regardless of our students, we should be teaching them how to communicate with different people that they will interact with on a daily basis. I do a lot with persuasion, different forms of writing, and RAFTS to emphasize that they do not talk to their friends the same way they talk to their teachers, parents, bosses, etc.

    Brittany, I love using "Where I'm From," and another great piece that I've adapted to have my students embrace their history is "My Name" from Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street. It really makes them think about where they are from and how many different little things make up who they are and what their name means.