Four Quarters for Laundry Equals One Dollar

Lisa Delpit has continued to help me by shedding light on many of the intricacies in the educational system that I had not fully understood, or known to be going on. In the interview conducted by ‘Teaching Tolerance’ Delpit addresses the conceptions, or misconceptions, of what the expectations should be of young children, and the ‘basic skills’ they should have by certain ages. She notes that these skills are typically based around “those skills that middle-class children gain in the first five years of life from their homes”, and that while many children are absolutely adept at dealing with real world problems both creatively and constructively, they many times have issues transferring that knowledge onto rigid worksheets. She gives the example of a little boy who, at school, is unable to complete a worksheet about money, however at home he takes care of his siblings, and is in fact able to count change in order to do the laundry for the household, as well as completing a variety of other tasks that would be considered ‘basic skills’. It is extremely important to be able to look at the individual child and recognize that his or her strengths and genius are there, however they might not be given the right avenue at school to be able to use them as the curriculum might be demanding of them.


6 thoughts on “Four Quarters for Laundry Equals One Dollar

  1. Rebecca,

    It is very interesting that Delpit points out how students do sometimes have the skills but have not been taught how to transfer that knowledge in and academic way. I wonder how, after recognizing in this instance that that student did have the skills, the teacher worked with the fundamental knowledge to help this student succeed in the classroom.

  2. There is always counselors, special education services, language services required by law to help students. Maybe someone at the school could have intervened, tested the child for special services to find the problem.

  3. I thought this interview was interesting because it reminded me of a kid who was just like this person. They had also struggled in school doing simple math problems so they had to put them in a special math class. The kid was smart at home and was able to purchase items at the store by them self at home but as well couldn’t seem to get math on paper. So I definately agree with about how they strengths and genius are there but the curriculum can be demanding.

  4. I also found this article to be very interesting. I feel that this is such a sad and common story for students in our schools. Just because they aren’t able to translate their knowledge to standardized tests or worksheets it is assumed that they do not have the knowledge. This is why it is so critical to have teachers, and other faculty members who know the students, families, and communities they are serving. Knowing the population will give the school insight to help them connect with students and achieve better results by tapping into knowledge that is relevant in their lives.

    • Your comment: “It is extremely important to be able to look at the individual child and recognize that his or her strengths and genius are there…” was exactly what I was thinking in relation to that article as well. Delpit was asked about the “basic skills” of language, and how to value their home language while teaching them needed verbal skills to navigate in “larger society”… She talked about how really young kids have the opportunity to “role play” and be newscasters, or use a puppet and mimic popular super heroes on TV. I thought this was genius. She said that the approach should not be teaching that their home language should be changed. What a great example. It is like you said… they need to recognize their own strengths and genius. What THEY have already is valuable!

  5. Rebecca,
    Delpit has a very holistic approach when is comes to education. I love that she thinks about including the child’s environment into his intellect. He has some issues translating his knowledge through academics, but it doesn’t make him less intelligent than his peers. They do not have the same responsibilities. The boy who Delpit is speaking about, does not have the same amount of time allotted to him for studies, as his middle class peers do. He is busy prioritizing and making adult like decisions. There is no fair way to compare the two groups or asses his intellect with out considering his environment.

    I know that by the age of 5, most children have adult like language. They know the rules of language (syntax, grammar, ect..) even if they do not have the most sophisticated vocabulary. To me it seems like Delpit is trying to explain that children are not necessarily behind in development if they do not all showcase the same skills, they have just have different learning experiences. That is why a holistic approach is so important. Once you have a better understanding of a child’s set of skills you will be able to equip them with more.

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