A Talk to Teachers, by James Baldwin

1380 Words6 Pages
In his work, “A Talk to Teachers,” James Baldwin poured out his point of view on how he believed American children should be taught. Throughout the essay, Baldwin focused on a specific race of school children: Negros. Perhaps this was because he himself was an African American, or even for the mere idea that Negros were the most vulnerable for never amounting to anything — according to what the American society thought during the twentieth century, specifically the 1960s when this piece was published. With the focus determined, the reader is able to begin analyzing Baldwin’s main appeal through the essay. At first glance one could argue that the essay has no credibility with Baldwin’s lack of not being a school teacher himself; however, when further evaluated one could state that whether or not he was a school teacher has nothing to do with the fact that he establishes his credibility, he appeals to morals, emotions with authority, and values, which thus outweighs the possible negativities associated with his argument.

Baldwin established his credibility throughout the entire essay. A key point in his rhetoric is that he does not shy away from the fact that he is not a schoolteacher, but rather begs for those who are schoolteachers to forgive him (p. 17). He then backs himself up later in the essay when he states “[i]t is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person” (p. 19). Within this sentence Baldwin seems to not only be talking about children but also about himself and how important it was for him to be an educated man. He— and many others for that matter— thought of him as an educated man and it was worth the risk to stand up for something, which needed to be dealt...

... middle of paper ...

... is directed towards schoolteachers and how they need to teach differently, it also points towards the growing of the next generation. It is amazing the thought and compassion behind Baldwin’s works and how much he has put into arguing such a touchy subject. He literally instills fear into his audience to the point where they cannot prevent taking action to change the way they teach. Whether or not someone argues with Baldwin’s argument it is still inevitable that the tension within the essay is creatively and wonderfully done. With Baldwin’s educated status and his persuasive personality his work is beautifully pieced together to create an undeniable force of authority for change in the education system.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. “A Talk to Teachers.” 1963. Yearbook of the National Society for the

Study of Education. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2008. 17-20.
Open Document