The other night, as I read A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Ruby Payne, I found some of the Hidden Rules Among the Classes very interesting. Payne says that “the bottom line in generational poverty is entertainment and relationships” (pg. 41), This intrigued me. Relationships I can understand, but really, entertainment?
She describes a situation where teachers are very concerned about a family because they did not have a fridge. So, many of the staff members came together, pooled their resources, and bought the family this much-needed fridge. About 3 weeks after this purchase, the students from this family were away for a week. Upon their return, when asked where they had been, the students told their teachers that they had gone camping because their family was so stressed. When asked how they could afford to go camping, the students responded that their family had sold the fridge (pg. 41)! Oh my!
I do not think this is unusual behaviour in families in poverty.
When I think back on my own childhood and wonder if this held true for my family as well, I believe that it did, in many respects. My family had one of the first computers when they came out – OK, maybe not the name brand Commodore 64, but a computer, nonetheless: The RadioShack Colour Computer. Did we really need this computer? No. Not really. Did we use it primarily for entertainment purposes? Yes. We had a nice stereo system in our various homes. My dad had a nice SLR camera. I can think of many things we had for the purpose of entertainment. I can also think of other things that were not entertainment related that we did not have.
So, if entertainment and relationships are the most important factors for the children who come from poverty, one may think how should we use this information in the school and in individual classrooms?Continue reading “Teachers Must Entertain”