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The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  920 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Education, like electricity, needs a conduit, a teacher, through which to transmit its power-- i.e., the discovery and continuity of information, knowledge, wisdom, experience, and culture. Through the stories and experiences of eight successful teacher-transmitters, The Dreamkeepers keeps hope alive for educating young African Americans.

--ReverAnd Jesse L. Jackson, presi
Paperback, 187 pages
Published January 29th 1997 by Jossey-Bass (first published January 29th 1993)
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4.08  · 
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 ·  920 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, teaching
Gloria Ladson-Billings spent two years observing highly effective teachers in an underprivileged, predominantly african-american district. She asked parents and administrators to list teachers they considered highly effective, then chose the names that appeared on both lists. She uses anecdotes from those observations, interwoven with her own memories, to distill several hallmarks of culturally relevant teaching. In brief, they come down to this: 1) Treat your students with respect. 2) Remember ...more
Craig Werner
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'll begin by saying that Gloria Ladson-Billings is a colleague whose work has had a major and constructive impact on the field of urban and multicultural education. Her notion of culturally relevant pedagogy works better than any other approach I've encountered in approaching the real life needs of diverse classrooms. Although the title emphasizes the relevance to African American children, culturally relevant pedagogy can be extended to all different sorts of classroom situations. Without mini ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mostly just shocked that it's taken me seven years in education-as-social-justice to read this cover to cover (id read many chapters and excerpts before). We're reading it as part of onboarding our 2016 teachers and it's SO good. Not sure how "possible" it would've felt as a brand new teacher, so that's why I'm reading Crossing Over Into Canaan next - also about culturally relevant teaching, but with a focus on new teachers. Definitely glad I read and recommend for all education peeps!
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
A wonderful exploration and analysis of what is needed to be a successful teacher of African American students. This text explores several case-studies but adds a meaningful organization of themes that helps the aspiring and practicing teacher recognize what areas of competency and understanding are needed. Strength-based, truthful, and inspirational; I wish I had found this earlier in my teaching career.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand what it means to be a teacher. There is so much more to education that teachers commit to; they must become allies and saviors, disciplinarians and nurturers, and do so while understanding that each child—no matter their race, gender, or family background—is different and deserves a chance to excel.
Jul 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
an easy yet powerful read. good for teachers, non -teachers, anyone remotely interested in social justice. from the beginning she works from the understanding that race is important. maybe we should all be "equal", but we're not, and pretending everything is balanced is a disservice to children, especially african american children. very good. there's hope.
Joe Totterdell
“No challenge has been more daunting than that of improving the academic achievement of African American students. Burdened with a history that includes the denial of education, separate and unequal education, and relegation to unsafe, substandard inner-city schools, the quest for quality education remains an elusive dream for the African American community. However, it does remain a dream—perhaps the most powerful for the people of African descent in this nation.”

Gloria Ladson-Billings is curr
One of the better books I've had to read for class - it's a little dated at this point (I would love to see an updated study in a similar vein as this), but worth the read. Some of Ladson-Billing's tenets for successful teachers of African American children seem obviously, but they are worth saying, and so well-put. And her research argues her case nicely.
Christopher Garrett
I have this book 3 stars just based on the old content. The teaching practices are great and I highly suggest this for anyone who teaches children of color. It opened my eyes to many things I wish I did while in the classroom to build a stronger community and establish stronger relationships with my scholars and families.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great read. For many it affirms what you're doing is right, for others it challenges how you practice teaching, you ask questions you will get answers, you will change some things and you'll understand your students better. Truly this book is written for all and all students can benefit from the knowledge gained from it.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finally got to read this and really took a lot from her rich descriptions of effective teachers.
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I needed this for school. Very insightful and will hopefully help with my research.
Laura Mansfield
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be a required read for all teachers.
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very informative! Great content!
Kathleen Daley
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book and many of the classroom suggestions the author discussed. However, I felt most of the ideas are applicable to all students, rather than any one particular race.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was already excited to become a teacher, but after reading this book I'm inspired to work even harder to become a great teacher.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Especially poignant for teachers but a thoughtful for anybody who wants to understand more about cultural literacy in a charged climate. Well-written and full of humanity.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Book intertwined personal stories of the author, instructional methods of about ten successful teachers of black children, and data about children of color. Personally I found it dry, and very fragmented. I think it would have been a better read if she had profiled each teacher in a chapter at a time, illustrating why they were successful. Because it was dispersed throughout the whole book, the author kept having to re-introduce each teacher.

The book had many examples for teachers of color or t
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Though based on research conducted over twenty years ago, Dreamkeepers remains relevant. Despite the hopeful tone throughout, we are left with a sense of dramatic irony both during and after reading because we know all along that little has improved in twenty years. The best gift I got from this book is hyper-awareness of my own educational background and, by extension, my reasons for getting into teaching. I've already known that, as someone who enjoyed formal schooling and achieved a fair amou ...more
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think out of all the books I have read so far during my college experience that really teaches me how to become a culturally responsive teacher this one is the best by far. I love the way the author draws from her own experiences as a child and relates them to the current teachers that her study is about. I like how she uses the art of specificity as her writing craft. She does this so well when describing the teachers and it really helps me to imagine each and every person she is talking abou ...more
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
Overall a very interesting read with a lot of challenging concepts and alternatives for the education system. A lot of great ideals for how to teach students that could easily be applied to all walks of life, but especially low-income schools and areas. 3 (and a half) stars given, however, since the book is now a bit dated (as admitted in the forward for the new edition which is already an additional handful of years old) and needs to be assimilated with current conditions and practices to get a ...more
What do you do when you run out of books on vacation? You grab your little brothers stack of educational reading.

Beyond presenting the story of eight exceptional teachers, Ladson-Billings offers a critical examination of how we present 'knowledge' and for whom schools are designed.

For educators looking to make a difference but not able to do so, there is much here to be gained. For those thinking they are doing a great job but not sure of how they might not be, 'Dreamkeepers' can be an eye open
Dena Lake
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
Recommended to me by a college professor, this book was incredibly insightful and helped me put a name to my goals in the classroom and community. As she outlines 'culturally relevant teaching,' Ladson-Billings profiles a few teachers who embody the principles of this pedagogy, showing ways in which they benefit African-American children in public schools. I really appreciated her cautioning against dysconscious racism , an "uncritical habit of mind that justifies inequity and exploitation by ac ...more
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Research is dated, but nevertheless offers important investigations and observations into the varying degrees that educators consider/utilize cultural diversity in their teaching approaches. Also highlights the impact of making such cultural and personal connections between students & curriculum as well as the positive impact on students as they shape their own identity and personal expectations...ever so important in the one sized fits all approach of the over tested environments that stude ...more
Regina Clarkinia
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
it's been some time since i read this but i remember it brings up real issues that teachers face every day when teaching black students - stories ladson-billings witnessed or experienced - and told in a direct easy to read way.

she brings up heavy topics in a clear and free way. i loved this book at the time and it's unique in that it touches on such complicated issues in such an accessible way. i have a hunch there are many smart books that deal with teaching black students but they're probably
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is repeatedly used and referenced in my teacher coursework at the University of Minnesota. Now, that my student teaching placement is an area with about 60 percent African American population I read this book seriously for the first time. Ladson-Billings makes some great points that African American children can learn, They need to Culturally relevant Teaching, that every child is responsible for adults in the future and Teachers should not be color-blind.

There are great stories and ob
Apr 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was given to the entire staff of my school to read and the author actually visited our school to discuss her views. I found the book inspiring and hopeful. The book is easy to read and relevant to my school and classroom. Her views on race and schools is enlightening. Teachers who feel that they are not even the slightest bit biased toward certain students may discover, after reading this book, that their actions may not be as fair as they first thought--a very good read for any teache ...more
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any teacher/ anyone who wants to make a difference
Shelves: educationallit
Gloria Ladson-Billings offers the reader a perspective into culturally relevant teaching that is new and needed in all classrooms throughout the country. In an age where students are being tested out of Kindergarten, some aspects of education are lost. Ladson-Billings addresses the need to embrace culture, especially with African American children, since their failure in schools is the most evident. I would recommend politicians on Capital Hill to read this book. Perhaps NO Child Left Behind cou ...more
Dec 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
This book gave excellent insights into teaching African-American children and the culture that shapes these children. In addition to this, it highlighted the way I should be teaching ALL of my students, giving examples of classroom environments that are challenging and loving all at the same time. This was inspiring as a teacher, brining to mind new ideas of how to better structure my classroom, especially when dealing with African-American children. The teachers highlighted in this book are ins ...more
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-readings
There was a lot of valuable information in here, although some of it suffered a bit from being dated and I wish there had been more practical advice or application instead of so many anecdotes. That said, if you're interested in cultural competency or any kind of critical pedagogy (especially for elementary-aged students) this is a good read, although maybe more as a supportive text than a core material.
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