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For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  2,272 ratings  ·  294 reviews
Merging real stories with theory, research, and practice, a prominent scholar offers a new approach to teaching and learning for every stakeholder in urban education.

Drawing on his own experience of feeling undervalued and invisible in classrooms as a young man of color and merging his experiences with more than a decade of teaching and researching in urban America,
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published March 22nd 2016 by Beacon Press (first published March 1st 2016)
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Start your review of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education
Excellent distillation of urban studies, race-gender oriented critical-theory, and education philosophy applied to the urban classroom, for a non-academic audience.

This book was written for me (And for you, too, especially if you teach or are interested in the education debates). A personal anecdote: Kids hang out in my room after school, including many I don't teach (they come with friends). Anyways, the other day, I had to kick everyone out due to a faculty morale-building activity (well so
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Handshakes? "Take 'em to church?" This book really and truly is for white folks that teach in the hood.

Here's the trick to effective teaching: see your students as individuals and recognize that they may have a different background or experiences than you. Work hard to reach them anyway and check your biases -- we all have them; don't disregard them, but be aware and acknowledge them.

I'm hesitant to give a harsh review of this book because for someone it may be beneficial. For me, I was
Khama Weatherspoon
Jul 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
This style of teaching is unreal. The author makes it seem like urban children are hard-wired to rowdy, boisterous, and overly-social, and that we should accept that as part of black and brown culture and recalibrate our teaching to accommodate it. As a black man, I disagree with almost all that he has written....but the author would most likely say that I'm a traitor/sell-out who has stripped myself of my real true identity in order to appease white traditional America...

This man is insane...

Ben Babcock
This review is lengthy and also gets quite personal, since I can’t help but examine For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood …and the Rest of Y’all Too in the light of my own experiences as a teacher.

TL;DR: Christopher Emdin is awesome, and this book is too. It’s short and accessible, but it has such staying power. I wish this were mandatory in teacher training everywhere. Also, minor spoilers for Anne of Green Gables in the next paragraph. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

When I was a wee boy, I read
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Eduction, by Christopher Emdin, is a fascinating and exciting work that challenges teachers who work in urban environments "in the hood" as to how they approach their work, adapt their teaching practice to the needs and the strengths of their students, and reflect upon their own biases and willingness to change.

The book brought to the surface assumptions I was unaware that I even had which was, at
Shawn Towner
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
The introduction and conclusion should be required reading for any teacher, not just those who teach in urban schools. The chapters based around the "Seven C's" of reality pedagogy didn't feel as revelatory to me. There are good ideas for teachers, even teachers like me who don't teach in diverse/urban schools, but what I want to see from a book like this is how to change not just classroom instruction but the values education is built upon. Some ideas (like the cogen/cypher) I could see ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: uh....
Recommended to Ivonne by: Dr. DeLena Alexander
Shelves: teaching
Christopher Emdin is no LouAnne Johnson. She’s best known for her book “My Posse Don't Do Homework”, which served as — very loosely — the basis for the movie Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. But her tour de force is her primer on teaching in urban schools, Two Parts Textbook, One Part Love: A Recipe for Successful Teaching — the greatest book I’ve ever read on teaching. Period!

It would be unfair to compare For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality
Kris Sieloff
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading in teacher education programs. I wish I had read a book like this when I was an undergrad education major. Twenty four years in the classroom later, all of this book rings true to me.
Kathryn Fulton
Apr 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Emdin's main idea is solid: White teachers need to understand and value their students' culture. What is not solid is the practical conclusions for instructional practice that he draws based on this idea. Emdin's suggestions fall into 3 groups: (1) intriguing but WAY too complicated to implement in real life, (2) insultingly simple, and (3) good ideas but nothing new that research hasn't been saying for YEARS.

The thing that most distressed me about the book was Emdin's oversimplification of the
Steven Baumann
Feb 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
Teachers are taught to use evidence-supported pedagogy. Unfortunately, much of teacher education is based on unsupported flashy-idea pedagogy and catchphrases that change rapidly. If you are looking for pedagogy supported by evidence or quantitative or even deep qualitative research, this is simply not the book. For a book with 210 pages, five pages of notes or one piece of research per chapter is simply not enough.

What is unfortunate is that Dr. Emdin scratches the surface of ideas that have
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
A great topic to talk about but he repeats himself and rambles and takes too long to get his tips across. Maybe it's good for total newbies?? I feel like it could have been tightened up. Also, some of his tips aren't helpful for the average teachers. Who has time to play b-ball after work with kids(much less enough skill to be allowed to play with them?) or the flexibility to form rap sessions in class in a regular basis?
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great stuff. Scholarly, but also conscientious of real-world circumstances; very successful in reframing what it means to teach, what it means to be schooled. I'm teaching a course called Language & Learning this year, and I'm adding this title to the list of group book talks. I anticipate some great, mind-widening discussions.
Sydney Lewis
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
This book was hard to read as a "white folk who taught in the hood" because it made me very aware of the hundreds of things I did wrong and the privilege I did not check nearly enough during my time in the classroom. I think it's definitely, 100% worth reading if you plan to teach in a school that serves students of color.

That being said, this book focuses primarily on teaching black students, which made it less personally relevant to my own teaching experience; almost 100% of my students were
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I feel incredibly grateful to be working with educators who assigned this reading to our staff. This book is meant to be discussed, and I cannot wait to do so with my team and family. I would argue that this is not just a book about great teaching "in the hood", but a book about straight up great teaching -- which is educating in a way that validates and celebrates kids, people and communities (not standardized tests). I'm excited to implement many of the steps outlined right away, and am ...more
Emdin discusses the importance of engaging neoindigenous context as a pedagogical tool, particularly by teachers who don't share the cultural background of their students. Truly an average rating: I either loved a chapter or I hated it. There's a lot of anthro/soc, which I love, and the book certainly challenges what's comfortable/necessary/possible in the classroom. The thing that bothered me most was the arrogance in how one-sided the discussion of context was, which strikes me as ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: school
I'm glad I read this. It has a lot of rich passages and chapters that reminded me of what a highly engaged classroom can look like for kids from "the hood". My overall take on the book, though, is that it would have been a good book for me to read 10 years ago, when I was still new to the profession of teaching--and new to teaching kids from "the hood". The *now* me would have liked to have seen Dr. Emdin use the phrase "cultural appropriation" just once. (Just once!!) So, white teachers, please ...more
Stephen Masterson
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very valuable book for anyone who is a teacher in urban areas, or is an educator looking for new ideas of what authentic teaching and learning can look like. The "reality pedogogy" that this author suggests reminds me a lot of Paulo Freire's advice in Pedogogy of the Oppressed.

One thing I wish the author would have addressed is the fact that he tried out all of the teaching techniques in the book as a black man teaching in the "hood," but he is writing for a mainly white audience of
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well...all this boils down to love your students, your neighbor as yourself. Lots of new speak for explaining the golden rule simple. Education rolls about and introduces new terms with a few reinventions hoping it will make for systemic change. And it’s just love. It’s always love.
Daniel Park
Fresh perspective on teaching in the “hood” or any other lower income areas. The main thesis of the book is that educators ought to celebrate qualities in neo-indigenous people (people of color) that are not normal to mainstream culture, but that don’t deter from actual learning. This made me think of how I can incorporate new ways of communication, like instagram, or even slang into my class to deliver it in a more powerful way.
Seamus Ronan
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who is remotely interested in urban education should read this book. Administrators, educators, parents, policymakers, whatever. Emdin sheds true light on the darkened stereotypes of neo-indigenous urban youth and actively seeks to break the system through his reality pedagogy. The title made me feel uncomfortable, and it's supposed to.
Meg Petersen
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a very different kind of education book. Although it is theoretically based, it does not focus on theory, and although it contains very practical suggestions, it does not focus on instruction either. The main focus of this book is on how we teach across difference, how we bridge gaps between our own backgrounds and those of our students. Emdin refers to urban, black students as the neoindigenous and sets up a comparison with how indigenous students were miseducated in the infamous Indian ...more
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I seem to be the only person that didn't love this book. Maybe I have just been reading too many professional books lately, but I actually didn't finish it. I am worried I missed all of the good stuff. It isn't that I don't agree with many of the points in the book, I do, I just couldn't get into the writing style, I suspect. I will also comment that Emdin's suggestions are just good teaching, not necessarily particular to one group of students.
Shane Harris
Aug 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Compelling, thought-provoking, and insightful. Disrespectful, condescending, and judgmental. All wrapped up in one book.
Nicole Means
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although I do not teach in the “hood,” I believe that Christopher Emdin’s research is very applicable even in the rural context. What I really loved about this wonderful resource is that it provides so many strategies for teachers to help the disinterested become interested. Oftentimes we mistake disinterest for lack of ability, but once we understand the context from which our kids come; however, Emdin asserts, that once understand the context from which our kids come, we might realize that ...more
Michelle Kuhn
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education, nonfiction
This book was really helpful for me as I consider the complicated relationship race plays in my educational context in the South Bronx. I was challenged by the way Emdin calls out the white savior complex many urban teacher prep programs perpetuate, and also by the creative ways he calls teachers to make their educational practice more culturally responsive- in language, dress, and classroom practices that are more liberatory. This was a great follow-up to my recent read of of the philosophical ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm bummed that the digital version I downloaded expired before I could pull the quotes and bookmarks that I saved, but alas, I know we will be getting several copies for our professional section in the library and I'll go back to re-read/skim. It's an important addition to our professional collection and references other professional texts that we also have. I like that it's contemporary and posits the reality pedagogy where he details specific actionable items but also details them in a way ...more
Jennifer Mangler
I'm torn on this book. There are elements I found thought-provoking, and there are elements I found problematic. The beginning of the book was the best part, as it helped me critically reflect on my experiences, and how the preconceptions I bring into the classroom have shaped what I do and why I do it. The later parts of the book reminded me very much of my student teaching experience, when I realized my cooperating teacher was trying to shape me into another him and I struggled to figure out ...more
Robert Fitzgerald
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best pedagogy book I have read, and definitely up there with the most insightful books on teaching. I had the privilege to see Dr. Emdin speak in Denver a couple years ago, and he was electric and riveting. You feel it in your bones that what he preaches works, as it is based on years of teaching experience, trials and observations. His heart for helping teachers and students from different backgrounds is so evident in this book - he wants fiercely to bridge the gaps between the two. Much of ...more
Alex Johnson
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ed-must-reads
Even as a preservice teacher who hasn't taught yet, this book blew me away. Christopher Emdin identifies urban youth as "neoindigenous" and uses this term as a framework to build a classroom culture that celebrates nontraditional learning. His emphasis on community learning, student voice valuing, and family fostering really resonated with me. His strategies seem so pie-in-the-sky for me, but I know my fear of trying them out is rooted in not wanting to rock the boat. A must-read for anyone in ...more
James Monaco
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is hands down the best education-related book I have read in years! As someone who works in urban education in a leadership capacity, Chris Emdin’s book provides a plethora of research and information related to teaching the neoindigenous. This is such an important piece of work for the field of education, and I recommend anyone involved in teaching or administration to read this regardless of the students they serve. Every educator can improve his or her craft based on Emdin’s tireless ...more
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“Students quickly receive the message that they can only be smart when they are not who they are. This, in many ways, is classroom colonialism; and it can only be addressed through a very different approach to teaching and learning.” 9 likes
“The kind of teacher you will become is directly related to the kind of teachers you associate with. Teaching is a profession where misery does more than just love company—it recruits, seduces, and romances it. Avoid people who are unhappy and disgruntled about the possibilities for transforming education. They are the enemy of the spirit of the teacher.” 4 likes
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