A Framework for Understanding Poverty

Just a few words today on a great book.  Ruby Payne's A Framework for Understanding Poverty is a really worthy read whether you are a teacher or not.  It is certainly worth the read if you are in any form of human services.

About five years ago, my district focused on poverty for the entire year's professional development.  Teachers who were around for The Poverty Conference still talk about it.  It still influences how they go about their day here in a district with more than 40% free and reduced lunches.

Dr. Payne's chapters are Definitions and Resources, The Role of Language and Story, Hidden Rules Among Classes, Characteristics of Generational Poverty, Role Models and Emotional Resources, Support Systems, Discipline, Instruction and Improving Achievement, and Creating Relationships.

The best section was the chapter on hidden rules.  She breaks down simply (chart form simple) the differences between poverty, middle class and upper class when it comes to things like possessions, money, education, family structure and more.  It's a really nice comparison; things this white kid from the suburbs hadn't really considered before.

We also talk a lot about generational poverty here (as compared to temporary situational poverty).  In many cases, that's exactly what we are dealing with: matriarchal family structure, fate, polarized thinking, living in the moment.

And like the proper handbook it is, each chapter wraps up with implications for schools.

Love this book. It informs what I do and how I think about things around here.

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