Other People’s Children

Of all human possessions, an individual’s world view is one of the most portable. It is also the most insidious in that it serves as a matrix wherein the information a person acquires intersects with that which he or she disseminates. Humans filter all external stimuli through successive layers of assumptions and presuppositions. Layers which have the capacity to alter objective reality to such a degree that one person’s “truth” is another’s egregious lie. Although a frequent and persisting occurrence, this phenomenon possesses the greatest potential for disaster in the course of the interaction between student and teacher in the classroom situation. This is particularly the case when the world view of the majority are perceived as the only reality while those of the minority summarily dismissed as inconsequential.

Delpit’s work appears in three parts. The first three essays approach the problem of why children of color seem unable to read or write with the same facility of their colorless classmates. The second part affords Delpit the opportunity to link her experiences in Alaska and New Guinea to her assertion that what individuals know is a product of their specific world view and not an unbiased appraisal. Part three, on the other hand, offers suggestions for solutions and the direction of future education reform.

Delpit is concise, and her work is largely free of the jargon and graphs which all too often occur in this area. Moreover, she reaffirms the essential truth that in education, as in almost everything else, one size does not fit all. Still, she might consider that the tyranny of the minority is no less offensive than the despotism of the majority.