“In reality, what many teachers call basic skills are only those skills that middle-class children gain in the first five years of life from their homes. We need to appreciate the skills all kids bring in and give them opportunities to express those skills and teach them the ones that they don’t bring in”.
During the interview Delpit discusses the “culture of power” and how that implicitly categorizes students into academic “haves” and “have-nots”. She explains that the power issues have to do with how well what children learn at home matches what is presented to them in the classroom. For example, she introduces a 6 year old who could not do worksheets on money. In a classroom setting this looks like a special needs issue, or a student who has fallen behind, when in reality he was already doing real money in real life. He loaded the coin operated laundry machines in his building as he did the laundry for his entire family of mother and siblings. These circumstances elude to the idea of this not being a middle-class home. I find one contradiction in Delpit’s statement as she claims that basic skills in an education system are determined by those presented of the middle-class, but introduces ideas that middle class-kids are too dependent on their parents and have not learned some of these basic “Real life” skills like the six year old has. Not only has he learned how money works, counting, and basic math, he is also learning essential domestic duties that he will use in the future. I do however agree with Delpit that a culture of power does exist and teachers should play a large role in helping all students gain access to it, if they want to.
The question I have is How does one directly teach all students who aren’t white/middle-class/English speaking the explicit codes of the culture while at the same time meeting the needs of those who have already mastered the code? And how would you do this as a teacher while making sure no child is ostracized or out casted?