Young, Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students

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Beacon Press, Sep 11, 2012 - Education - 192 pages
2 Reviews

Young, Gifted, and Black is a unique joint effort by three leading African-American scholars to radically reframe the debates swirling around the achievement of African-American students in school.

In three separate but allied essays, Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hilliard place students' social identity as African-Americans at the very center of the discussion. They all argue that the unique social and cultural position Black students occupy, in a society which often devalues and stereotypes African American identity, fundamentally shapes students' experience of school and sets up unique obstacles. And they all argue that a proper understanding of the forces at work can lead to practical, powerful methods for promoting high achievement at all levels.

Theresa Perry argues that African-American students face dilemmas, founded in the experience of race and ethnicity in America, that make the task of achievement distinctive and difficult. (For instance: "How do I commit myself to achieve, to work hard over time in school, if I cannot predict when or under what circumstances this hard work will be acknowledged and recognized?") She uncovers a rich and powerful African- American philosophy of education, historically forged against such obstacles and capable of addressing them, by reading African-American narratives from Frederick Douglass to Maya Angelou. She carefully critiques the most popular theoretical explanations for group differences in achievement. And she lays out how educators today-in a postcivil rights era-can draw on theory and on the historical power of the African-American philosophy and tradition of education to reorganize the school experience of African-American students.

Claude Steele reports stunningly clear empirical psychological evidence that when Black students believe they are being judged as members of a stereotyped group rather than as individuals, they do worse on tests. He finds the mechanism, which he calls "stereotype threat," to be a quite general one, affecting women's performance in mathematics, for instance, where stereotypes about gender operate. He analyzes the subtle psychology of stereotype threat and reflects on the broad implications of his research for education, suggesting techniques-based again on evidence from controlled psychological experiments-that teachers and mentors and schools can use to counter stereotype threat's powerful effect.

Asa Hilliard's ends essay, against a variety of false theories and misguided views of African American achievement, and focuses on actual schools and programs and teachers around the country that allow African-American students achieve at high levels, describing what they are like and what makes them work.

Young, Gifted, and Black will change the way we think and talk about African American student achievement and will be necessary reading on this topic for years to come.

 

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User Review  - CrazyKatLady - LibraryThing

Very intriguing writing from three different authors on how to improve black performance in education. Each essay addresses what the writer thinks is the primary problem to be resolved. If you are an ... Read full review

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User Review  - bplma - LibraryThing

Written by three prominent black scholars, this series of essays presents three different points of view regarding the achievement gap between black and latino students on the one hand and white and ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Toward a Theory of AfricanAmerican Achievement
1
Freedom for Literacy and Literacy for Freedom The AfricanAmerican Philosophy of Education
11
Competing Theories of Group Achievement
52
Achieving in PostCivil Rights America The Outline of a Thoery
87
Stereotype Threat and AfricanAmerican Student Achievement
109
Closing the Achievement Gap between Africans and Excellence
131
REFERENCES
167
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About the author (2012)

Theresa Perry is Professor of Africana Studies and Education at Simmons College. She is co-author ofYoung, Gifted and Black, and co-editor of The Real Ebonics Debate, among other books. She is faculty director of the Simmons College/Beacon Press Race, Education and Democracy Lecture and Book Series.

Claude M. Steele, formerly of Stanford University, is the provost and professor of psychology at Columbia University.

Asa Hilliard III (1933-2007) was the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University.

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