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November 01 , 2007


Lessons in Teaching from an African American Hair Salon


Shoptalk examines the development of literacy, identity, and thinking skills that takes place through cross generation conversation in an African American hair salon and how it can inform teaching in today’s diverse classrooms. By shining a spotlight on verbal discussions between the salon’s patrons and workers, the author provides a critical reassessment of the achievement gap discourse and focuses on the intellectual toolkits available to African Americans as members of thriving communities. While this book offers a detailed analysis of the informal teaching and language practice that occurs within the salon, it also moves beyond that setting to consider culturally situated problem-solving within an urban, language arts classroom. Shoptalk is essential reading for teachers, teacher educators, and administrators who are interested in widening their view of culturally responsive pedagogical practices.

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Book Features:

  • Examines how African Americans use language, including African American Vernacular English, to achieve particular goals.
  • Identifies culturally relevant literacy practices and related skills and how these can be supported within and across contexts.
  • Shows teachers how to leverage the out-of-school practices of students of color for literacy learning and development.
  • Shows school leaders how to develop and maintain learning environments that are culturally responsive.
  • Demonstrates research methodologies for the study of the social context of learning.

“This rare and wonderful book gets us to think in fresh and creative ways about the intersection of race, language, work, and school. What a gem.”
Mike Rose, research professor, UCLA and author, The Mind at Work

“This fascinating ethnography of speaking opens a window into an important socialization setting while also opening up new theoretical territory. It provides understanding, wisdom, and hope for how we might improve educational outcomes for African American children.”
James V. Wertsch, vice chancellor for International Affairs,Washington University in St. Louis

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