THE INNER-CITY CHILD by Frank Riessman


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This is not a discourse on children in cities, as the title suggests, but a persuasive strategy for improving the education of black children in city schools. Riessman maintains that compensatory education has failed because it implies deficiencies in the children instead of focusing on the strengths of their culture. He would build on their verbal skills using games and visual, active lessons; yet he acknowledges that few teachers using these techniques have been able to move beyond the initial ""contact"" curriculum (street talk, TV, sports) to encourage truly independent learning. He urges planning for differences in cognitive styles, noting that ""slow"" and ""gifted"" are not opposite measures; argues for widespread use of child tutors and adult para-professionals for saving costs and extending the community into the schools; disputes the reliability of the Jensen-Shockley-Herrnstein data on racial capacities and questions the wisdom of IQ testing in general. These are reasonable approaches to critical problems (which apply to other children as well) but his recommendations are based on several assumptions mentioned only briefly: that schools and society will shift priorities; that large numbers of teachers can be retained; that a full-employment economy will welcome graduates with jobs. Aware that large institutions often sabotage their own best efforts, he insists on a gradual course of action and a plan which holds administrators accountable. A strong statement based on current research and common sense.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row