Lisa Delpit is an American educationalist and author. She is also an Eminent Scholar and Executive Director of the Center for Urban Educational Excellence at Florida International University in Miami, Florida and Felton G. Clark’s first Distinguished Professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Lisa Delpit spent her childhood years on Lettsworth St. in “Old South Baton Rouge,” the first black settlement in the city. The house in which she lived as a child was built next to the “Chicken Shack,” a community restaurant that her dad started, she was told, with $0.46 in his pocket. Much of her young life was spent in the kitchen with her dad. Delpit recalls a Baton Rouge where her mother could not try on a hat in the department store and where black children were unable to attend school with white children. She remembers black nuns who told her ‘Act your age, not your color’ because of the then internalized views in society concerning black people. At only the age of seven, when her father died of kidney failure because he had no access to a dialysis machine, Delpit remembers the local hospital having a separate ward for colored patients.
She recalls: “When I was growing up, my mother and my teachers in the pre-integration, poor black Catholic school that I attended, corrected every word I uttered in their effort to coerce my black English into sometimes hypercorrect standard English forms acceptable to black nuns in Catholic schools. In elementary school, I diagrammed thousands of sentences, filled in tens of thousands of blanks, and never wrote any text longer than two sentences until I was in the 10th grade of high school”. In spite of Delpit’s light skin, freckles and reddish hair, her emergence from childhood to adolescence brought with it a changing world; one accompanied by a different view of Baton Rouge. Due to these changes, Delpit eventually became one of the first few frightened black students from “good” families to integrate St. Anthony’s High School, one of the Catholic high schools she attended in her hometown.
Delpit attended Antioch College in Ohio, which was known at the time for its radicalism. After she obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, she was eager to utilize the progressive teaching strategies in her first teaching position at an inner-city open elementary school in Southern Philadelphia. The students were 60 percent poor black children from South Philadelphia and 40 percent white children from Society Hill. Delpit recalls: “The black kids went to school there because it was their only neighborhood school. The white kids went to school there because their parents had learned the same kinds of things I had learned about education.” Dissonnance arose in Delpit’s teaching when she realized her strategies did not work for all her students; her white students zooming ahead while her black students played games and learned to read, but only much slower than the white kids. Later on, when Delpit attended Harvard Graduate School of Education to pursue her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Curriculum, Instruction and Research, she came to understand the importance of students learning to write in meaningful contexts.
Throughout her career, Delpit also functioned in a variety of other roles. As scholar, she served on the Commission for Research in Black Education (CORIBE). She also worked as teacher and Professor at Georgia State University GSU and later assumed the capacity of Professor at Florida International University College of Education(FIU).
As an African-American researcher, Delpit’s emphasis has been elementary education with a focus on language and literacy development. She has also been concerned with issues relating to race and access granted to minority groups in education
In Educators as “Seed People” Growing a New Future, Delpit discusses the significance of educators taking on positive attitudes towards students of color. She highlights the importance of looking beyond standardized test scores and scripted instructional programs if one is to truly educate all students. Delpit maintains educators can no longer continue to question whether low income students of color are capable, but must instead create rigorous and engaging instruction based on the students’ cultural, intellectual, historical and political legacies. She asserts eductors have much to learn from pre-integration African-American institutions in which Black intelligence is affirmed and which provide students with the motivation to achieve.
***Information courtesy of Wikipedia.org***