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"Multiplication Is for White People": Raising Expectations for Other People's Children
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"Multiplication Is for White People": Raising Expectations for Other People's Children

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,490 ratings  ·  143 reviews
As MacArthur award-winning educator Lisa Delpit reminds us—and as all research shows—there is no achievement gap at birth. In her long-awaited second book, Delpit presents a striking picture of the elements of contemporary public education that conspire against the prospects for poor children of color, creating a persistent gap in achievement during the school years that h ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by The New Press (first published September 27th 2011)
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Well, this is a pisser. To be clear: Delpit is a strong writer covering a topic that's sure to enrage almost everyone: that is, public education in the US. The short version is vast amounts of money from the Gates and Walton foundations (among other sources) haven't helped, except to divert energy and money away from public schools. No Child Left Behind hasn't helped, except to divert billions away from any actual education and into private companies producing the loathed tests and test-prep mat ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I am all over the place on Lisa Delpit’s latest book on educating “poor black children,” probably because Delpit is a little all over the place. She makes a plethora of excellent points, but in a fashion that is overly wordy (I know, pot calling the kettle black here; wait, I didn’t mean it that way!), puzzlingly organized, and admittedly angry (“I am left in my more cynical moments with the thought that poor black children have become the vehicle by which rich white people give money to their f ...more
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Very interesting book on teaching African American children in general (not just math). There were lots of things in it that made me think. I actually tore the post-its I was using to mark pages into smaller & smaller pieces so I could mark more pages (no I didn't get more--just lazy I guess). I am not a teacher, but I do work in a school and it really made me think about how I respond to children of color based on my own world view and how an can change that based on what I learned from this bo ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Much food for thought. When I have a class full of students, I have a class full of different life experiences and “worldviews” that impact student behavior, learning, social interaction. If I’m only considering MY worldview in my classroom, how can my students get what they need?
Ceci | winstonandbooks
And so, to my students who are teachers, and to all teachers, I reiterate: Your work does matter more than you can imagine. Your students, particularly if they are low-income children of color, cannot succeed without you. You are their lifeline to a better future…"a future we could not even imagine for ourselves."

There are lots of important, valuable hits in this book, but also some major misses. I think it’s worth the read for educators, but I do think a better text that relies the same message
After two recommendations from very different kinds of educators, I pulled this to the top of the TBR list. I read it, annotating and sticky-noting, and was having an internal argument with the author nearly all the way through. But rereading, to collect my thoughts, copy quotes, and organize it in my mind, I find myself agreeing with most.

Delpit is a teacher of color...she works with other educators working mostly in poor, urban schools that serve families and students of color. Her book does
James Townsend
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Okay so this book meanders a lot and covers a lot of ground (which I don't mind but apparently some people took great issue with). It's difficult to easily summarize because of this (but also an easy read because it is very episodic from section to section) The major ideas:

* The achievement gap between white and nonwhite children does not exist at birth, it's something that arises in later life (in spite or perhaps even because of[?] how those children are educated)

* Along those lines, educatio
Tia Jones
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
As an educator deeply committed to growing in my practice, especially as it pertains to educating Black and Brown students, I often find that books I read cite the same statistics, studies and facts. This was one of the few exceptions. I learned a ton of new information, and grew in my practice as a result. I highly recommend this book to all educators of Black and Brown students.
Kristin Wooten-Oby
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this book for a class on poverty and children. I enjoyed how Delpit used real life experiences to show how different we are taught to look at ourselves. Great read.
Maggie Needham
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
So much to think about and glad I read it.
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Worth reading for every educator or parent. Might be too academic in tone for some audiences but I found it thoroughly readable. I can’t wait to read more of her work.
Alex Johnson
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lisa Delpit is a genius and knows what she's talking about. She gives a lot of great actionable strategies, but her points come down to this: know your students, value them, and challenge them. And collaborate with your colleagues and learn from other educators who are succeeding. No need to reinvent the wheel. Highly recommend, especially to white teachers with majority black students. ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. I have definitely mixed feelings about this book. Consistently throughout the book, the best points and best research were citations of other people's work. As a compilation of research on education and race, it's excellent. I highlighted a lot of points, from the fact that we spend more instructional time on behavior modification in low-income schools (using techniques no one would dare use in middle-class and upper-class schools) and thus it's no surprise there's less learning, to t ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be mostly about what this meant for STEM teachers. After reading her first book, I was more than bought into her second book.

The perspective Delpit offers regarding microaggressions as being ever present in our daily interactions with our students was great to read as a teacher and namely as a teacher of color--even to the point of causing me to reflect on my own inherent biases against my students who look like me. None of us are immune and
Shaeley Santiago
Delpit calls on teachers to hold high expectations for all of their students, to truly listen and learn from students in order to develop the kind of relationship of respect, a "warm demander." She also presents alternatives to the high-stakes, standardized testing that leads to a focus on deficits rather than assets and the absolute importance of teaching students critical thinking.

One new topic I learned about from this book about the negative impact of Brown v. Board of Education on the num
Jenna Kaufman
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Delpit speaks eloquently on the disparities in education that remind educators of our duty to implement culturally responsive teaching and hone in on students' funds of knowledge. This books touches on power dynamics and "helpful teacher programs" that tend to harm students more than benefit them. Personally, I would've appreciated more educator or student anecdotal tales, but a must read for all educators. ...more
Jaime K
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the title, this book is heavily focused on ELA, particularly in lower to mid-elementary levels. It does not do the book a disservice, but as a secondary math teacher, I was hoping for more math.
Still, without the literacy and language acquisition, understanding other vocabulary is difficult. And a lot of what is said is helpful for all classes, particularly teaching in context. I’m constantly trying to help all my students recognize math in their lives, whether they are in pre-algebra o
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this as a professional development summer read for work. I recommend this for all teachers. It is a powerful testament and reminder to look at each child individually and without assumptions.
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a refreshing read for my Grad class.
SJ Loria
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Two Articles and the Education Implications

One of my students was telling the class how she was the only black student in her previous school (a private school). I asked her “which school do you like better?”
“Well, here I feel more welcome, there I learned more.”

Recently I was debating a friend and I asked him, well, what’s the end goal of education? He responded to build a sense of community, I responded that the end goal of American education is to instill individual excellence so a person can
Rebecca Vogelezang
There are many things I appreciate about Multiplication is for White People. Lisa Delpit ushers in a set of concerns and possible solutions into the arena of teaching Black children. She does so in a easy-to-access writing style, with a solid mix of anecdotal and empirical evidence. I find that many education PD books, specifically ones meant to address the racism that runs rampant in our education system, rely too heavily on one or the other - either lots of stories from individuals or so much ...more
Jun 29, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2014-15, 2013-14
For this February's book share, I finally got my hands on a book that first cough my eye a couple of months ago. After reading another book by Lisa Delpit, I really enjoyed the way she raises ideas / questions while challenging conventional thinking about education and teaching, so her latest book (only 2 years old now) seemed like a good next step. I also had undergone a "beyond diversity" training a few months ago where the main facilitator recommended this book to me, so it it seemed like a g ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
MacArthur Fellow and education professor Lisa Delpit (author of the seminal book Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflicts in the Classroom) takes on the “pedagogy of poverty” in this exploration of why education is still failing poor students of color. She charges that in spite of the fact that America has a black president,

“…we are far from a color-blind society, that African Americans are still devalued, stigmatized, and made invisible.”

In particular, she points to “microaggressions,” the t
May 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
I want to go about this carefully because this book is not without merit. First, it took forever for me to finish this book (which I read for school), and found it difficult to get through which is probably just a personal preference thing. I will say that I think this book felt like it could have been probably half as long as it was which didn't add to the reading experience. So many things were repeated over and over again so everything became predictable and at times boring.

There are some gre
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The reality is that all children have much greater potential than we ever imagine, but our rigid educational system assumes that some children are incapable of achieving academically and that one model of instruction fits all.”

I’m not even sure where to start with this book. I believe this is a must read for educators. Delpit provides thought provoking evidence demonstrating how schools & teachers systematically expect and teach less to some students. She also provides ways and processes to int
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great book about the need to hold high expectations for all children regardless of race. Delpit persuasively advocates against the common tendency for teachers to assume that factors external to the school make it impossible for black children to succeed, and to teach at a lower level with lower standards on the basis of that assumption. Rather than making excuses for students who face obstacles outside of class and allowing them to fail, she argues that teachers need to provide students with ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Better for instructors or those working towards teaching rather than for a general freshman comp class. I don't know that I learned anything "new" per se, but it was good to see this from another perspective. Many of my students who read this did express that they finally felt like someone "got it," and they were hopeful that future K-12 students would benefit from teachers who read/will read this. ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to this as an audiobook and I almost gave up on it. Perhaps it was just me but I felt there was too much judgement in the narrator's voice in the beginning of the book. I eventually sped up the audio to 1.25 and liked it much better so perhaps it was just the narrator reading slowly that made me dislike it. Ultimately the content was excellent although it seemed a bit disjointed at times and isn't exactly what I expected. An important book about educating black students. ...more
Nate Balcom
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Lots to think about after reading this VERY informative work. I was able to hear Lisa Delpit speak at a recent virtual conference where she challenged me and forced me to reflect and look ahead at how things could change for the betterment of all students. If you're in education, I'd highly recommend this read. She's extremely intelligent and quotes a lot of sources which bring weight and perspectives to the topics addressed. ...more
Kate Schwarz
Feb 04, 2022 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Delpit discusses her experience working with teachers of underprivileged Black children and those students themselves and offers advice on how to best educate this group. I wish she would have expanded some parts into even more practical steps. I also was curious of her thoughts on leadership of schools, and what the role could/should be for principals in supporting teachers and, therefore, students.
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24 likes · 5 comments
“As a result of this “racism smog,” many of our children have internalized all of the negative stereotypes inherent in our society’s views of black people. A student teacher at Southern University told me that she didn’t know what to say when an African American eighth-grade boy came up to her and said, “They made us the slaves because we were dumb, right, Ms. Summers?” Working with a middle schooler on her math, a tutor was admonished, “Why you trying to teach me to multiply, Ms. L.? Black people don’t multiply; black people just add and subtract. White people multiply.” 4 likes
“A second reason African American students are not excelling is that we have all been affected by our society’s deeply ingrained bias of equating blackness with inferiority.” 3 likes
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