The Skin That We Speak Author:Lisa Delpit These 13 essays by teachers offer firsthand perspectives on the provocative issue of dialects in the classroom a controversy sparked by the notorious ebonics debates of the 1990s. Delpit (Other People's Children) and Dowdy, education professors at Georgia State University, have gathered both new and previously published pieces by distinguished e... more »ducators like Herbert Kohl, Jules Henry and Victoria Purcell-Gates. The collection opens with personal essays by two teachers Dowdy, schooled in Trinidad, and Ernie Smith, from South Central Los Angeles who describe their own struggles to come to terms with the formal language of school and the nonvalidated language of home. Other essays move into the classroom, looking at how different teachers address questions of dialect and how students experience their instruction. The classrooms described range from kindergarten to high school to teacher training. While most of the essays focus on African-American language, there's also a piece by Michael Stubbs on students with working-class English or Scottish vernaculars in the U.K. and an article by Purcell-Gates that follows a poor white Appalachian boy in the public school system. Although these lucid, accessible pieces speak most directly to teachers and would-be teachers (including specific suggestions for instruction), the issues are broad enough to attract more general readers, especially parents concerned about questions of power and control in public schools.
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