In Privilege, Power and Difference written by Allan Johnson he talked about the power of privilege in society whereas in The Silenced Dialogue Lisa Delpit talks about power within the educational system. I had a more difficult time reading and comprehending Delpit’s article then I did Johnson’s. One example that left me perplexed was on page 34 she discusses a quote by Shirley Brice Heath who wrote Way with Words about the differences in directives that are given by a middle class “townspeople” teachers (I assume that these are white teachers) and that of black teachers. She gave an example regarding scissors. The white teacher asked “Is this where the scissors belong?” while the black teacher said “Put those scissors on that shelf.” I sat wondering if this was a fact or was it just her opinion and if it was fact was it based upon certain schools in certain areas. I think this has more to do with the teachers teaching style rather than based on their race. Looking to gather more information I researched Heath and the book which was written in 1983 and is based upon two communities in Piedmont California: Roadville a white working-class and Trackton a black working-class. During her time of research in 1969-1978 she recorded and interpreted the language habits of children and teachers. Now knowing the context of this information and that it was from over 40 years ago it is easier to comprehend her point and what she is saying. Also with it being written over 40 years ago I ponder what research would show not especially with teacher evaluation systems in place.
One powerful and truthful quote that really stuck out to me while reading the article was on page 32 where Delpit wrote “The teacher cannot be the only expert in the classroom. To deny students their own expert knowledge is to disempower them.” An example Delpit provided was of a teacher who taught her students about the structure of grammar and Shakespeare by first giving them the power in the classroom of learning the skills needed through the use of something of interest to them-rap music. She taught the skill using a topic that was motivating to her students. She gave them the power to succeed. She put thought into her process of teaching the skill.
While reading the article I came across a point that made me think of something I read in Johnson’s article. On page 38 Delpit writes “A white applicant who exhibits problems is an individual with problems. A person of color who exhibits problems immediately becomes a representative of her cultural group” which made me think back to a quote in Johnson’s article on page 34 by Paul Kivel “In the united states, a person is considered a member of the lowest status group from which they have any heritage.” It shows the correlation of being pegged into a group based on one unchangeable factor and not based on who the individual is.
Learn more about Lisa Delpit
On a complete side note, since doing the Schwaamp activity in class on Wednesday I have been much more aware of and recognizing what we talked about in class. This week Lego revealed its first character with a disability who is in a wheelchair. In the article they talked about a campaign called Toy Like me which is a viral Facebook campaign calling attention to toy makers to create toys that “better culturally represent 150 million disabled kids worldwide.
Also this week Mattel announced that they have expanded its line to include three new body types-tall curvy and petite and a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. They did not post any pictures so it will be interested to see how their interpretation comes to life.