Good teaching for poor kids

A former teacher and principal, Ruby Payne gives advice on teaching poor kids that makes sense to educators, reports Education Week.

To survive in poor communities, Ms. Payne contends, people need to be nonverbal and reactive. They place priority on the personal relationships that are often their only significant resources and rely on entertainment to escape harsh realities. Members of the middle class, in contrast, succeed or fail through the use of paper representations and plans for the future. They value work and achievement.

. . . teachers must recognize that children from poor families often benefit from explicit instruction and support in areas that could be taken for granted among middle-class students. Those include the so-called unspoken rules, mental models that help learners store symbolic information, and the procedures that it takes to complete an abstract task.

A teacher attentive to the needs of her low-income students fills the day with pointers and checklists. She puts tools for organizing information into her students’ hands, and helps them translate it from its “street” version to its school one. She spells out reasons for learning.

Critics say Payne’s views aren’t backed by research and stereotype poor people.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. While some of the things she mentions seem reasonable, there’s just enough Lisa Delpit in there to turn me off. I’ve posted about Delpit’s work at
    http://rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com/2005/10/social-justice-cultural-competence-etc.html

  2. Michael E. Lopez, Esq. says:

    That’s actually a really interesting theory… I wish the rest of the article wasn’t behind a subscription barrier, but them’s the breaks.

    I do think that it’s undeniable that by the time a kid is five or six years old, his or her brain has undergone major changes since birth, and that those changes are in great part dictated by the kid’s environment. It does stand to reason that kids who are raised in extremely verbal households, surrounded by books and computers and symbols and conversations they can’t quite understand but which have a certain level of sophistication to them are going to have brains better at interpreting symbols.

    I don’t know about the “relationships” crap though… people are always trying to avoid making judgments by saying “Oh well, she’s a hands-on learner, while he’s a visual/aural learner” or “He’s really good with symbols but she’s good with relationships.”

    I think the truth is closer to “He’s way smarter than her and she’s only progressed to the hands-on learning stage” or “He’s way smarter than her and while they’re both good with relationships, he’s also good with symbols.”

    It’s not an either-or proposition when you are talking about intelligences or capacities. Some people just don’t have as many points in the great D&D character sheet of life.

  3. Michael Lopez of Welcome to Highered Ed?

  4. Michael E. Lopez, Esq. says:

    Yes, indeed. I’m not dead. I just stopped blogging for, shall we say, various reasons.

    How goes?

    -Michael

  5. Nancy D says:

    I NEVER thought of that. Did Howard Gardner steal his idea for the Multiple Intelligence crap from Dungeons and Dragons character sheets? It makes so much sense now!

    Actually, D and D might make more sense and probably has more educational value.

  6. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    A lot of common sense isn’t backed up by ‘research’ (esp.in the faux ‘social sciences). I attended a Ruby Payne conference in San Diego, and heard lots of interesting info to share with my colleagues. There are all kinds of poverty, only one of which is economic. The worst kinds are spiritual and intellectual poverty, which cuts across all socioeconomic levels, and the patterns continue through generations of families. Good pedagogy and high expectations are the answer, not political correctness.

  7. Indigo Warrior says:

    Nancy D:
    Did Howard Gardner steal his idea for the Multiple Intelligence crap from Dungeons and Dragons character sheets? It makes so much sense now! Actually, D and D might make more sense and probably has more educational value.

    This also explains why small-c communists hate Dungeons and Dragons so much. D&D is too “elitist” for their tastes, and even has moral absolutes.