Young, Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students (Paperback)
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“An important and powerful book” that radically reframes the debates swirling around the academic achievement of African-American students (Boston Review)
In three separate but allied essays, African-American scholars Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hilliard examine the alleged ‘achievement gap’ between Black and white students. Each author addresses how 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. Young, Gifted and Black provides an understanding of how these forces work, opening the door to practical, powerful methods for promoting high achievement at all levels.
In the first piece, Theresa Perry argues that the dilemmas African-American students face are rooted in the experience of race and ethnicity in America, making the task of achievement distinctive and difficult. She uncovers a rich, powerful African-American philosophy of education by reading African-American narratives from Frederick Douglass to Maya Angelou and carefully critiques the most popular theoretical explanations for group differences in achievement. She goes on to lay out how today’s educators can draw from these sources to reorganize the school experience of African-American students.
Claude Steele follows up with 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 analyzes the subtle psychology of this ‘stereotype threat’ and reflects on the broad implications of his research for education, suggesting scientifically proven techniques that teachers, mentors, and schools can use to counter the powerful effect of stereotype threat.
Finally, Asa Hilliard's essay argues against a variety of false theories and misguided views of African-American achievement. She also shares examples of real schools, programs, and teachers around the country that allow African-American students to achieve at high levels, describing what they are like and what makes them work.
Now more than ever, Young, Gifted and Black is an eye-opening work that has the power to not only change how we talk and think about African-American student achievement but how we view the African-American experience as a whole.
About the Author
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.
Perry, Steele, and Hilliard . . . challenge the terms of the current conversation that denies Black students' gifts and they offer models for achieving excellence despite the burdens of racist stigma and stereotype . . . [An] important and powerful book . . . Offers a forceful antidote to the victim-blaming that pervades most policy discussions on Black achievement. --Charles Lawrence, Boston Review
"Forget what you think you know about the achievement gap between white and black students. In Young, Gifted and Black, three professors lay out the research that shows what you 'know' is probably wrong." --American School Board Journal
"I am awed by the lucidity and careful crafting of these essays. The authors-all scholars of impeccable credentials in their respective fields-capture with unprecedented cogency the real issues surrounding the so-called 'achievement gap.' No one who reads this book can ever suggest that we don't know what to do to promote high achievement for African-American students. The question is, do we really want to do so." --Lisa Delpit, Florida International University, author of Other People's Children
"While the authors of the three essays in this thought-provoking volume disagree on many things, all agree that we must have a 'better understanding of what it is we are asking African-American youth to do when we ask them to commit themselves, over time, to academic achievement . . .' The solutions offered by each essay are creative, inspirational, and good old common sense." --Los Angeles Times
"In a remarkable essay, . . . Steele takes [a] very common coming-of-age experience and turns it into a hopeful solution . . . In just 22 pages, [Steele] proposes several solutions, as do the other contributors." --Jay Matthews, Washington Post
"These three very different essays go a long way toward raising the level of the national discussion about 'achievement gaps.'" --Charles Payne, Duke University