Thursday, September 29, 2011
Reviewing Gloria Ladson-Billings' The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
This book was required reading for a Nature of the Learner course I took Columbia International University. In Dr. Ladson-Billings' second edition of The Dreamkeepers (2009), she revisits eight teachers who were interviewed and observed in the first edition (1994). 15 new teachers who are examples of great teaching are also introduced in the afterword. The stories of all of the teachers take place in predominantly African American school districts. The basic premise of the book is to show that culturally relevant teaching is a matter of teachers bringing out the different strengths of students in the classrooms. Each teacher that Dr. Ladson-Billings studied focused on three central things in their teaching - a strong focus on student learning, developing cultural competence, and cultivating a sociopolitical awareness in the students.
The Dreamkeepers consists of seven chapters and is 225 pages when including the two appendices (Dr. Ladson-Billings' methodology and the context of the study), 14 pages of notes, the index, and 21 study questions. I do not find The Dreamkeepers to be a riveting read, but that is a common theme in a number of my book reviews of this type. I do think this book is important for African American teachers and teachers of African American students and can certainly be of benefit for anyone in the teaching profession.