The Skin That We Speak

Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom

In this powerful book, bestselling author and MacArthur “genius” Lisa Delpit joins with other education experts to unpack the complex relationship between language and power in the classroom

“Lucid and accessible.” —Publishers Weekly

In what Black Issues Book Review calls “an essential text,” leading education scholars illuminate the crucial role of language in the learning process, uncovering the biases and stereotypes associated with the varieties and dialects of English we speak. With diverse perspectives on topics such as the need for linguistically differentiated instruction, code switching, and the role of personal identity in the classroom, The Skin That We Speak is a vital look at crucial educational issues.

Edited by bestselling author and MacArthur fellow Lisa Delpit and education professor Joanne Kilgour Dowdy, the book includes an extended new piece by Delpit herself, as well as groundbreaking work by Herbert Kohl, Gloria Ladson-Billings, and Victoria Purcell-Gates, and classic texts by Geneva Smitherman and Asa Hilliard.

When children are written off in our schools because they do not speak formal English, and when the class- and race-biased language used to describe those children determines their fate, everyone loses. The Skin That We Speak is a much-needed analysis of the ways that classrooms can accommodate everyone, to the benefit of students, educators, and society.


“Although these lucid, accessible pieces speak most directly to teachers and would be teachers . . . the issues are broad enough to attract more general readers, especially parents.”
Publishers Weekly

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