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Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,085 ratings  ·  251 reviews
Winner of an American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award and Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Book Award, and voted one of Teacher Magazine’s “great books,” Other People’s Children has sold over 150,000 copies since its original hardcover publication. This anniversary paperback edition features a new introduction by Delpit as well as new framing es ...more
Paperback, 223 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by The New Press (first published March 24th 1995)
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Jamie Flowers Absolutely! This book really opens your eyes to the experience of children from all different kinds of marginalized groups, so I think it would be eve…moreAbsolutely! This book really opens your eyes to the experience of children from all different kinds of marginalized groups, so I think it would be even more important if you're teaching in a majority white area. You'll be able to understand and empathize with students who might be even more marginalized by their peers due to being a small minority within a mostly majority culture school. It really got me thinking about the experience of bilingual and English as a second language students. It may also inspire reflection on the experiences of your special education students and the marginalization they face.(less)

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Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This book is based on a series of research papers written by Delpit and she makes it clear that the first two chapters have proven controversial over the years. This is interesting, because it is likely that these chapters remain just as controversial today.

There is a really useful divide in the theory involving teaching children to read, with right-wing types likely to stress the importance of skills-based methods of instruction, while left-wing types are likely to stress the reader’s construct
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book when I first started reading it. It seemed the author was way into race issues in a way that would make me feel guilty as a white woman who has chosen to work with ethnic and linguistic minority communities.

But Delpit's message is not one of hate or hopelessness. The bottom line is that everyone can learn, bias exists and that thoughtful teachers should go to whatever means necessary to educate their students, teaching them to be successful in main
Jan 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
I despised this book. It's a bitter, vitriolic, insensitive, racist, unsourced, and highly paranoid attack on liberal white educators. The book is literally a practice in reverse prejudice. Incredibly, Delpit's argument is one I agree with: that students should be taught Standard English (as opposed to African American Vernacular English) because the gatekeepers who are likely to decide students' futures (such as employers, interviewers, college admissions boards, and the like) tend to hold vari ...more
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: janae-s
This is an excellent book to read if you're White and teaching in an urban school (or if you're Black and are searching for validation for beliefs that have met opposition). Here are some quotes/tidbits to give the gist of the book:

In response to whether or not students should be taught Standard English, many parents share these sentiments: "My kids know how to be black - you all teach them how to be successful in the white mans' world."

"Teachers do students no service to suggest, even implici
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This would never be a book that I would consider recommending for gaining deeper insights into teaching children of color. I hoped to feel I had an edge to share with my teachers in dealing with and teaching children who come from culturally diverse backgrounds. Instead, I felt scolded and preached to and was unconvinced that even the author has ideas of how to best help, teach and reach our disadvantaged minorities. I concur with her last essay, that we need to value and celebrate the heritage ...more
Emily Waltman
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It feels almost sacrilegious to review "Other People's Children," which asks me to listen more than I speak, to understand more than I judge. I'll be brief, then. This book is so important it scares me. I feel obliged to actualize to Delpit's vision when teaching across difference, yet warier than ever of the challenges. I plan to return to OPC often, as a guide for rendering school pleasant and useful for every individual passing through my class.

Tl;dr: Read this book! Read this book if you...
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
Some things of note from this book:

"That, I believe, is what we need to bring to our schools: experiences that are so full of the wonder of life, so full of connectedness, so embedded in the context of our communities, so brilliant in the insights that we develop and the analysis that we devise, that all of us, teachers and students alike, can learn to live lives that leave us truly satisfied." p104

What can teachers do? p 163-165

1. Acknowledge and validate students' home language without using i
Abbi Dion
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Focused, honest, insightful and challenging. I took the time to type a few standout moments:
We have given up the rich meaningful education of our children in favor of narrow, decontextualized, meaningless procedures that leave unopened hearts, unformed character, and unchallenged minds. xiv
The reductionism spawned has created settings in which teachers and students are treated as nonthinking objects to be manipulated and “managed.” xv
Were we focused on our children as inheritors of the future, p
Emma Refvem
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
My advisor told me I *had* to read this book, and I can understand why. Delpit’s reflections on power in the classroom were particularly meaningful to me as I reflected on my time as a teacher. This book is probably taught to preservice educators but I think it would also work well to discuss with early career teachers after they have had the experience of wielding power in the classroom.
Stephanie Borges Folarin
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In her collection of essays, Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom, MacArthur Award-winning author Dr. Lisa Delpit examines how everyday interactions in classrooms are laden with assumptions about the competencies, aptitudes and basic capabilities of low-income students and students of color. Through excerpts of conversations with educators, students and parents, Delpit explores ways in which educators can be better “cultural transmitters.” She proposes that many academic a ...more
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An eye-opener. A collection of essays by Delpit and others looking at the classroom from the minority (minority in many senses) perspectives.

Through tales of Native Alaskan tribes, urban blacks, and minority student teachers, Delpit reminds teachers, parents, administrators, and students themselves about diverse upbringings and differences in linguistic cultural traditions that can easily be misunderstood in a school environment that is run by and which teaches the (white, professional) culture
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book is about how students from minority backgrounds are failed by teachers with little understanding about different cultures.

Little was shared about ways to address this issue, but it did open my eyes to the subtleties of racism.
Daniel S
“We all carry worlds in our heads, and those worlds are decidedly different. We educators set out to teach, but how can we reach the worlds of others when we don’t even know that they exist? Indeed, many of us don’t even realize that our own worlds exist only in our heads and in the cultural institutions we have built to support them.” [p.xxiv]

“understanding other worlds, journeys that involved learning to see, albeit dimly, through the haze of my cultural lenses. In that blurred view, I have co
Lianna Bessette
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. I wish I’d been assigned this book during my teacher training in college!
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book; but sadly I could not. It was very dry, very academic, and felt a lot of the time like she was tooting her own horn. I think her ideas are important, and need to be shared, but it was hard for me to get through. A very large portion of the book was devoted to teacher education programs and how they need to change. That is probably absolutely the case, but doesn’t do me a lot of good at this point. I wanted much more info about how to better reach and teach my s ...more
Donna Davis
I first ran across this wonderful research when I was working on my Master of Arts degree (I read an earlier edition). I was examining stereotypes regarding teachers' expectations and the Model Minority, based on the 1960's coverage in national US magazines proclaiming first-wave immigrants--i.e., Japanese- and Chinese- second and third generation Americans--to be people who had pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps without government aid. (The articles, published when the Civil Rights mo ...more
Jenny GB
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a good book for all educators to read, regardless of race. It really was an education to see the teaching styles and cultural styles of interaction that occur in different groups of people. While I resented that she claims that all white teachers don't really teach, but just stand there and expect students do the work I could get over that to learn from how other teachers work with minorities with directness and clear discipline. I know that showing emotion in the classroom and having ve ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
What does it mean to be a culturally competent teacher? How do issues of power in society show up in schools? In a collection of academic articles, Lisa Delpit explores how issues such as asserting authority, what makes a good teacher, appropriate language, and the importance of human connection and context vary across cultures. She advocates for teachers teaching ‘standard English’ and the unspoken rules of the dominant culture while encouraging students to think critically about power dynamics ...more
Jun 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book isn't so much an indictment of teachers and their practices as teacher education programs. This was published before The Skin that we Speak, so having read these two books in reverse order, it appears as if Delpit's ideas are becoming less refined, which of course isn't the case. In twenty years, I'm not sure if teaching programs are all that different from what Delpit describes in this book. One of her biggest critiques is the deficit mentality that is developed by increasingly White ...more
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book would be pretty dry for most people since it is a grad school book that one of the teachers I work with lent me. The main point of the book is that different cultures have different linguistic styles that often create a barrier between teachers and students, especially since the amount of "minority" children in city schools are growing while the amount of "minority" teachers is shrinking.

The other main point is that minority children should learn how to read and write academically, or
Doug Crook
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this as part of a group and I was surprised by how many of my peers really didn't like this book. Personally, I found it to be a fantastic approach to a hard to discuss topic. It really confronted a lot of my viewpoints in a healthy way and made me think about how I would approach certain scenarios differently, especially in regards to the classroom environment. By far my favorite part of the book was how it used disparate articles to show that a classroom in Alaska can feel the same to s ...more
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teachers and anyone interested in equity in the classroom
Shelves: adults, educators
There is really not much to say for this book: it is simply one of the most interesting and useful books I read as a teacher, and I recommend it to everyone who is considering becoming an educator. Lisa Delpit doesn't shy away from plainly stating the issues that face students of all ages. People who grow up in different communities have different expectations and ideas about getting and giving respect. In order for a student to succeed, she or he needs to be able conversant in the language that ...more
Danni Green
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The author's other book, Multiplication is for White People, was recommended to me recently, and when I looked that one up, I discovered she had written this book first, so I decided to read this before I read that one. This book is SO IMPORTANT; I'm usually loath to use words like "essential" or "required" in my book reviews, but if racial justice and/or education are important to you, I think you'll want to read this book. It really illuminates many of the specific ways that racial inequities ...more
Liz Murray
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An incredible book. A must-read for any teacher anywhere. Lisa Delpit draws on personal experience to put forward her ideas regarding culturally responsive pedagogy. I didn't find anything she said controversial, simply humanistic. Neither did I find her preachy. Her comments stand on their own. Lisa Delpit confirmed many things that I intuitively felt. As a white teacher I was struck by her comments regarding white teachers feeling they needed to hold back in order to be culturally sensitive. E ...more
Charlie Moynahan
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read as an assignment for my school district's response to figuring out how to nudge a little closure to equity. I jump at the chance to read, and any time someone hands me a free book, I smile - if it's a book that I can possibly learn from, I hug them (or virtually fist bump them, thanks 2020).

This book... didn't disappoint, and I'm eager to jump into the dialogue with my colleagues at my school district. Comprised mostly of speeches or articles that Ms. Delpit has delivered/written previousl
Sarah Land
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I can’t say enough good things about this book! The first section, Controversies Revisited, was a little challenging for me to get through as a reader. But every section after that and each article after that were brimming with such hope! The margins of this book for me are filled with notes on how I’ve seen this in my experience, questions/challenges for myself, and teaching strategies/activities that came to mind as I was reading. This will be a book I revisit through the years and should ...more
Connor Oswald
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. I wish I had read it earlier in my teaching career.
Alex Gordon
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"In any discussion of education and culture, it is important to remember that children are individuals and cannot be made to fit into any preconceived mold of how they are 'supposed' to act." Diverse classrooms means diverse dialects, cultural understandings, interaction styles, values, backgrounds, needs, etc. Really great book; made me think. Full of anecdotes, some of which are upsetting, but ultimately an inspiring read. Great teachers put in the work to understand who their students are as ...more
Tippy Jackson
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book basically sums up my experiences and philosophy regarding education in diverse classrooms. It was so validating to hear that so many people have reached the same conclusions I have and had the same issues.

This is a collection of essays, so there is a little repetition, but it's not bad.

There is a chapter describing the isolation and difficulty teachers of color have in being heard by their colleagues. The chapter is called "The Silenced Dialogue." I had to laugh when I read some of t
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
I am not an educator or person of color. I am merely a white mother and active PTA parent whose kids go to schools that are majority non-white. I am very interested in approaches that will raise achievement for all students.

Part of the reason I gave only three stars, I think, is that this book is a bit dated. Not that the problems don't still exist, but the context has changed. I had to laugh in frustration when the author discussed adapting the curriculum content and ways of teaching to better
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