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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Johnson Reading--Connections Format

Allan Johnson makes many points that are similar to Lisa Delpit's arguments--they simply use different terminology.  For example, Delpit refers to a "culture of power," whereas Johnson refers to "privilege and power."

Delpit argues that there is a culture of power in which the best things in life, including education, are reserved for upper-class whites.  She says that upper-class white children know how to learn in school because they are a part of that culture of power and that they "know the codes--"unlike poor children or children of color who often misunderstand what the teacher is saying because middle-class language is so different from the language that they speak at home.  Delpit tries to drive home the point that we must acknowledge this huge difference if we are to make any worthwhile changes.  Similarly, Johnson claims that we are all a part of the problem, and that we must not only acknowledge it, but we must also give the problem a name in order to deal with it.  In other words, both authors say that we must admit that there is a problem.

Both authors also agree on the fact that only the people in the top tiers of power/privilege have the capacity to make the changes.  Delpit says that those who have the power are the most reluctant to even admit it, whereas those without the power are well aware of their powerlessness.  Similarly, Johnson argues that most people, especially if they are white, male, heterosexual, or members of the privileged class, get very defensive when these disparities are pointed out--he claims that it is this defensive reaction that has paralyzed any endeavors to bring about a solution.

Johnson also argues that many people in the privilege class do not actually see themselves as privileged, adding another layer to the problem--if you feel it has nothing to do with you, you are unlikely to work towards a solution.  Similarly, Delpit argues that some teachers think that they are helping poor students of students of color by not asserting their classroom authority.  However, according to Delpit, this is a disservice to children of color because they "know how to be black--" they need the "codes" to the culture of power.

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