The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children
Reading Lisa Delpit’s text, The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children, was an interesting read. However, I had a hard time relating some of her ideas with my own. I also found that Delpit used more references/ stories from colleagues than necessary. I believe that she has great insight and her paper was meaningful but in the same token, I felt that she posed a debate regarding teaching methods and fell short with her final response on the dispute.
Delpit’s main objective as she states is “addressing the more fundamental issue of power, of whose voice gets to be heard in determining what is best for poor children and children of color” (42). Delpit uses examples of black teachers vs. the middle-class teachers to explain how middle class teachers compare to black teachers.
Lisa Delpit does not believe that the black teachers style is better or worse than the middle class teachers style and mentions that depleting one style, sticking to only middle class teaching methods, would be a disaster as a culture. The objective is to have a combined style in order to reach all students and allow poor children, black children, as well as middle class children to succeed. Delpit’s example of how a black mother asks a child a question compared to how a middle class parent asks a child a question gave me a better understanding of how teacher’s styles differ in both camps (side note, I found it interesting that she referred to the middle class parent and the black mother – vs. parent. If you have a chance, try giving “Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society” a read Black Fathers Contemporary American Society).
What gave me the most trouble reflecting on the text, was the question of what do we do? I truly agree with Lisa Delpit that we need to start a dialogue and with last week’s author, Allan G. Johnson (Privilege, Power and Difference), who said in an interview Johnson Interview“If a word like racism or a word like privilege is not allowed, then were not going to see it, blinds us to it”. First and foremost, in order to allow the oppressed to get ahead is to open up the discussion and not be afraid to talk about the issues at hand. If we use the real words, the stigma placed on them will slowly be lifted. Then, we can all work on finding a solution. This is where I had a hard time with Delpit, who wrote, “it is those with the most power, those in the majority, who must take the greater responsibility for initiating the process” (46). I agree that those in power have a greater responsibility but it’s important for the oppressed group to continue to have a voice.
I appreciate Lisa Delpit's views and work and would be interested in reading more of her papers. One of my favorite quotes from this text was “We do not really see through our eyes or hear through our ears, but though our beliefs. To put our beliefs on hold is to cease to exist as ourselves for a moment” (46”). Once again, if we are able to talk about race and the oppressed groups and open up a dialogue we can work at allowing both camps the same justices.