Cover image for Through ebony eyes : what teachers need to know but are afraid to ask about African American students
Through ebony eyes : what teachers need to know but are afraid to ask about African American students
Thompson, Gail L., 1957-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 328 pages ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
LC2771 .T56 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
LC2771 .T56 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this book, Gail L. Thompson takes on the volatile topic of the role of race in education and explores the black-white achievement gap and the cultural divide that exists between some teachers and African American students. Solidly based on research conducted with 175 educators, Through Ebony Eyes provides information and strategies that will help teachers increase their effectiveness with African American students. Written in conversational language, Through Ebony Eyes offers a wealth of examples and personal stories that clearly demonstrate the cultural differences that exist in the schools and offers a three-part, long-term professional development plan that will help teachers become more effective.

Author Notes

Gail L. Thompson is associate professor of education at Claremont Graduate University.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, educator Thompson finds the public schools system continues "to grapple with issues pertaining to race and ethnicity." Prompted by this observation and concerns about the achievement gap between black and white students, Thompson set out to help prospective and current teachers "increase their efficacy with African-American students," particularly those in urban areas. Thompson (African American Teens Discuss Their Schooling Experiences; etc.) doggedly tackles the multiple theories educators have proposed to explain the achievement gap. Among them are the "low teacher expectation" theory, in which students are confronted by teachers who think little of their chances for success, and the "acting white" theory, in which some black students "infer that they have to reject their home culture to succeed academically." While Thompson supports these theories, she comes down harshly on the "parents-are-at-fault theory," insisting "most African-American parents do care about their children's education." The author explores the observation that "poor children and children of color... are more likely than others to end up with underqualified and ineffective teachers." Although Thompson spends a considerable amount of time complaining and calling on research and statistics, she also shares triumphs and challenges from her own days as a student. She offers advice, stressing the importance of "reminding students of the big picture" and the value of their education, and advising teachers to use hypothetical questions to spark discussion and showcase students' talent, acts that are important for boosting esteem in all children, regardless of color. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

With the addition of this latest book, Thompson over the last few years has written an effective trilogy of works that center on the social, academic, and pedagogical needs of African American students and their various school and home environments. The other two volumes are African American Teens Discuss Their Schooling Experiences (CH, Mar'03, 40-4140) and What African American Parents Want Educators to Know (CH, Jan'04, 41-2947). Thompson's writing appeals to a wide audience of academicians, students, and parents. By effectively melding theory and practice, this book offers professionals and parents a guide toward understanding African American cultures and background. Thompson is an effective cultural translator; her research and knowledge base rely on a triangulation of effective theory, proven practice, and common sense. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Diverse audiences; particularly for those who do not possess an extensive knowledge of African American culture. Advanced undergraduates and graduate students. L. B. Gallien Regent University

Table of Contents

List of Tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
The Authorp. xv
Introduction: Persistent Problemsp. 1
Part 1 The Basics
1. If African American Kids Aren't Dumb or Lazy, Why Are They Still Underachieving? Related Theoriesp. 13
2. Effective Instructional Practicesp. 38
3. Effective Classroom Managementp. 69
Part 2 What Teachers Want to Know But Are Afraid to Ask
4. How Can Teachers Reach African American Students from Challenging Backgrounds?p. 109
5. Standard English or Ebonics: Should We Force Them to Speak "Correctly"?p. 132
6. Can They Call Each Other the "N" Word?p. 149
7. What Should I Do When African American Students Accuse Me of Being Racist?p. 167
8. Why Do African American Students Need a Culturally Relevant Education?p. 189
9. Other Controversial Issuesp. 209
Conclusion: Can Beliefs Be Changed?p. 241
Notesp. 257
Appendix A The Time Line Projectp. 279
Appendix B The All About Me Projectp. 281
Appendix C The Cultural Awareness Projectp. 283
Appendix D The Community Problem-Solving Projectp. 285
Appendix E Writing About Music, Writing to Musicp. 287
Appendix F Using Writing Assignments and Student Artwork to Create a Class Anthologyp. 289
Appendix G Using "Quotes of the Week" for Writing Assignments and to Improve Critical Thinking Skillsp. 291
Appendix H Vocabulary Building Strategiesp. 293
Appendix I The Six-Hour Inservice and the Four Schoolsp. 295
Indexp. 313