September 7, 2007

Ruby Payne Review

600 Area Teachers attend Poverty Discussion

Payne first distinguished between the types of poverty, saying situational poverty, which can occur after a death or divorce, is temporary and involves a different set of rules from those people trapped in generational poverty.

Impoverished people focus on survival, relationships and entertainment, whereas middle-class people value work, achievement and material security, Payne said.

The conflicts in schools happen because the educational system has its roots in the middle class, so Payne said misunderstandings develop when teachers work with impoverished students.

Using anecdotes from her own career as well as those shared with her by other educators, Payne explained the different rules and language used by people from different economic classes.

One story dealt with a teacher who gave $200 to a parent for clothing for two students, only to learn later the money was spent on a VCR – an electronic luxury the family had never enjoyed.

Poverty is painful, and entertainment takes away that pain and will always take precedence over other items, Payne said.

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