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White Teacher by Vivian Gussin Paley


White Teacher by Vivian Gussin Paley

Vivian Paley presents a moving personal account of her experiences teaching kindergarten in an integrated school within a predominantly white, middle-class neighbourhood. In a new preface, she reflects on the way that even simple terminology can convey unintended meanings and show a speaker's blind spots. She also vividly describes what her readers have taught her over the years about herself as a white teacher .


A wonderful, useful book--short, warm, and to the point. Using entertaining, well-chosen incidents from her own teaching experience, Vivian Paley examines a question that concerns teachers on all levels: How do I use my own behavior as a teacher to help my students learn to deal constructively with racial and social differences? It would be hard for anyone to read this book without growing a little and smiling a lot. -- Kate Long Phi Delta Kappan This timely new edition of Vivian Gussin Paley's White Teacher is like a breath of fresh air. Originally published in 1979, it's a book that has important things to say about how teachers perceive and deal with race. In its rather anecdotal, unanalytical way, it sheds light on how all teachers, including those early-years education, negotiate their way through the complexities of living in a pluralistic society. -- Reva Klein Times Higher Education Supplement Inspirational and motivating...It is a book commendable to teachers, parents, and anyone else who wishes to understand him/herself better and is willing to continue to grow. Educational Studies In this humane and beautifully written account, Paley describes her progress in learning to deal more openly with her pupils'--and her own--perceptions of race. The reader, following Paley's progress with a succession of bright, charming, and sometimes exasperating children, sees how she became a better and more mature teacher. San Francisco Examiner White Teacher is really a nonfictional bildungsroman, a chronicle of both Paley's educational progress and that of the kindergartners under her charge...The stories, beyond even the lessons she draws from them, are very fine...White Teacher documents an admirable dedication...[It is an] eloquent little book. -- Julia M. Klein New Republic White Teacher, black children: Paley approaches this largely unexplored minefield with candor and incisiveness...The wit and sureness of her observations are compelling...Repeatedly, Paley uses anecdotes to convey judgmental errors, tentative adjustments, barriers overcome, as well as a feel of the classroom--a quiet accumulation of insights which both beginning and veteran teachers will value. Kirkus Reviews Paley's mistakes and blind spots are as vivid as the life-sized children in this portrayal of a journey toward valuing and talking about differences, and helping children to do the same. While this account does not boast of should be of interest to anyone committed to nurturing children or to understanding human development in a pluralistic society. Harvard Educational Review

About the Author

Vivian Gussin Paley, a former kindergarten teacher, is the winner of a MacArthur Award and of the 1998 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement given by the Before Columbus Foundation.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st March 2000


Vivian Gussin Paley

More books by Vivian Gussin Paley
Author 'Like for Like'


Harvard University Press


160 pages


Pre-school & kindergarten
Biography: general
Social classes
Ethnic studies



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