Understanding+.+.+.+Poverty

Understanding+.+.+.+Poverty - Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Poverty...

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Unformatted text preview: Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Poverty series Part I Understanding and Working with Students and Adults from Poverty BY Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Founder and Pf€5id€l7t 0f 3/73! PI’OCESS; INC. lthough this article was orig- inally written for teachers, the information presented may be of help to those who are working with persons making the transition from welfare to work. To understand and work with stu- dents and adults from generational poverty, a framework is needed. This analytical framework is shaped around these basic ideas: 9 Each individual has eight resources which greatly influence achievement; money is only one. 0 Poverty is the extent to which an individual is without these eight resources. 0 The hidden rules of the middle class govern schools and work; stu- dents from generational poverty come with a completely different set of hidden rules and do not know middle- class hidden rules. 9 Language issues and the story structure of casual register cause many students from generational poverty to be unmediated, and there- f ore, the cognitive structures needed inside the mind to learn at the levels required by state tests have not been fully developed. 9 Teaching is what happens outside the head; learning is what happens inside the head. For these students to learn, direct teaching must occur to build these cognitive structures. 0 Relationships are the key motiva- tors for learning for students from generational poverty. Key pOlhtS Here are some key points that need to be addressed before discussing the framework: Poverty is relative. If everyone around you has similar circumstances, the notion of poverty and wealth is vague. Poverty or wealth only exists in relationship to the known quantities or expectation. Poverty occurs among people of all ethnic backgrounds and in all countries. The notion of a middle class as a large segment of society is a phe- nomenon of this century. The percent- age of the population that is poor is subject to definition and circumstance. Economic class is a continuous line, not a clear-cut distinction. Individuals move and are stationed all along the continuum of income. Generational poverty and situa- tional poverty are different. Generational poverty is defined as being in poverty for two generations or longer. Situational poverty exists for a shorter time is caused by circum- stances like death, illness, or divorce. This framework is based on pat- terns. All patterns have exceptions. An individual bring with them the hidden rules of the class in which they were raised. Even though the income of the individual may rise significantly, many patterns of thought, social interaction, cogni— tive strategies, and so on remain with the individual. School and businesses operate from middle-class norms and use the hidden rules of the middle class. These norms and hidden rules are never directly taught in schools or in businesses. We must understand our students' hidden rules and teach them the hidden middle-class rules that will make them successful at school and work. We can neither excuse them nor scold them for not know— ing; we must teach them and provide support, insistence, and expectations. To move from poverty to middle class or from middle class to wealth, an individual must give up relationships for achievement. Resources Poverty is defined as the "extent to which an individual does without resources. These are the resources that influence achievement: Financial: the money to purchase goods and services. Individuals who made it out of poverty usually cite an individual who made a significant difference for them. Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Poverty Series Emotional: the ability to choose and control emotional responses, par- ticularly to negative situations, with- out engaging in self-destructive behavior. This is an internal resource and shows itself through stamina, perseverance, and choices. Mental: the necessary intellectual ability and acquired skills, such as reading, writing, and computing, to deal with everyday life. Spiritual: a belief in divine pur- pose and guidance. Physical: health and mobility. Support systems: friends, family, backup resources and knowledge bases one can rely on in times of need. These are external resources. Role models: frequent access to adults who are appropriate and nur- turing to the child, and who do not engage in self-destructive behavior. Knowledge of hidden rules: knowing the unspoken cues and habits of a group. Language and story structure To understand students and adults who come from a background of gen- erational poverty, it's helpful be acquainted with the five registers of language. These are frozen, formal, consultative, casual, and intimate. Formal register is standard business and educational language. Formal register is characterized by complete sentences and specific word choice. Casual register is characterized by a 400- to SOC-word vocabulary, broken sentences, and many non-verbal assists. Maria Montano-Harmon, a California researcher, has found that many low-income Students know only casual register. Many discipline referrals occur because the student has spoken in casual register. When individuals have no access to the structure and specificity of formal register, their achievement lags. This is complicated by the story structure used in casual register. The hidden rules of the middle class must be taught so students can choose to follow them if they wish. In formal register, the story struc— ture focuses on plot, has a beginning and end, and weaves sequence, cause and effect, characters, and consequences into the plot. In casual register, the focus of the story is characterization. Typically, the story starts at the end (Joey busted his nose), proceeds with short vignettes interspersed with participatory comments from the audience (He hit him hard. BAM- BAM. You shouda' seen the blood on him), and finishes with a comment about the character. (To see this in action, watch a TV talk show where many of the participants use this structure.) The story elements that are included are those with emotional significance for the teller. This is an episodic, random approach with many omissions. It does not include sequence, cause and effect, or consequence. Cognitive issues The cognitive research indicates that early memory is linked to the pre- dominant story structure that an indi— vidual knows. Furthermore, stories are retained in the mind longer than many other memory patterns for adults. Consequently, if a person has not had access to a story structure with cause and effect, consequence, and sequence, and lives in an environ- ment where routine and structure are not available, he or she cannot plan. According to Reuven Feuerstein, an Israeli educator: 9 Individuals who cannot plan, cannot predict. 9 If they cannot predict, they cannot identify cause and effect. 0 If they cannot identify cause and effect, they cannot identify consequence. 9 If they cannot identify consequence, they cannot control impulsivity. 9 If they cannot control impulsivity, they have an inclination to criminal behavior. Mediation Feuerstein refers to these students as "unmediated." Simply explained mediation happens when an adult makes a deliberate intervention and does three things: 6 points out the stimulus (what needs to be paid attention to) 0 gives the stimulus meaning 0 provides a strategy to deal with the stimulus. For example: Don't cross the street without looking (stimulus). You could be killed (meaning). Look twice both ways before crossing (strategy). Mediation builds cognitive strategies for the mind. The strategies are anal- ogous to the infrastructure of house, that is, the plumbing, electrical and heating systems. When cognitive strategies are only partially in place, the mind can only partially accept the teaching. According to Feuerstein, unmediated students may miss as much as 50 percent of text on a page. Why are so many students unmediated? Poverty forces one‘s time to be spent on survival. Many students from poverty live in single- parent families. When there is only one parent, he or she do not have time and energy to both mediate the children and work to put food on the table. And if the parent is nonmediated, his or her ability to mediate the chil— dren will be significantly lessened. Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Poverty Series Part I Hidden Class RUIES Generational Poverty Middle Class Wealth The driving forces for decision-making The driving forces for decision—makin g The driving forces for decision—making are survival, relationships, and are work and achievement. are social, financial, and political entertainment connections. People are possessions. It is worse Things are possessions. If material Legacies, one—of-a-kind objects, and to steal someone's girlfriend than a security is threatened, often the pedigrees are possessions. thing. A relationship is valued relationship is broken. over achievement. That's why you must defend your child no matter what he or she has done. Too much education is feared because the individual might leave. The "world" is defined in local terms. The "world" is defined in national The "world" is defined in terms. international terms. Physical fighting is how conflict is Fighting is done verbally. Physical Fighting is done through social resolved. If you only know casual fighting is viewed with distaste. inclusion/exclusion and through register, you don't have the words lawyers. to negotiate a resolution. Respect is accorded to those who can physically defend themselves. Food is valued for its quantity. Food is valued for its quality. Food is valued for its presentation. Other Rules 0 You laugh when you are disci- 0 Formal register is always used in ’ The artistic and aesthetic are key plined; it is a way to save face. an interview and is often an expected to the lifestyle and included clothing, . The noise level is higher now part of social interaction. art, interior design, seasonal decorat- . . . 3 . . g . . mg, food, mu31c, SOCial activ1ties, etc. verbal information is more impor- ’ Work is a daily part of life. tant than verbal. Emotions are ’ For reasons of security and safety, ’ Discipline is about changing behavior. To stay in the middle class, one must be self—governing and self -supporting. 9 Education is for the purpose ’ Destiny and fate govern. The . A . d .‘ (k Q. l v of social, financial and political notion of having choices is foreign. repriman 1‘8 m on 86110118 3' connections, as well as to enhance Discipline is about penance and (a? least the. Pretense 18. there)’ the artistic and aesthetic. forgiveness not Change Without smiling and With some deference to authority. * One of the key differences ' Tools are often not available. . Ch . . ‘ k) I ‘ t . th between the well—to~do and the Therefore, the concepts of repair Olce 15 a “3 concep m e wealthy is that the wealthy almost and fixing may not be present. llfcslige' Thle‘guwrf. IS impor- always are patrons to the arts and [am' 0mm (’ uca 10“ IS sun as often have an individual artist(s) to CF U913] {Or “1er SUCCPSS' whom they are patrons as well. virtually all contacts dependent on openly displayed, and the value of connection and introductions. personality to the group is your ability to entertain. Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Poverty Series To help students learn when they are only partially mediated, four structures must be built as part of direct teaching: 0 the structure of the discipline, . cognitive strategies, 0 conceptual frameworks, and 0 models for sorting out what is important from what is unimportant in text. Hidden rules One key resource for success in school and at work is an understand- ing of the hidden rules. Hidden rules are the unspoken cueing system that individuals use to indicate member- ship in a group. One of the most important middle-class rules is that work and achievement tend to be the driving forces in decision-making. In generational poverty, the driving forces are survival, entertainment, and relationships. This is why a student may have a $30 Halloween costume but an unpaid book bill. Hidden rules shape what happens at school. For example, if the rule a students brings to school is to laugh when disciplined and he does so, the teacher is probably going to be offended. Yet for the student, this is the appropriate way to deal with the situation. The recommended approach is simply to teach the student that he needs a set of rules that brings success in school and at work and a different set that brings success outside of school. So, for example, if an employee laughs at a boss when being disciplined, he will probably be fired. Many of the greatest frustrations teachers and administrators have with students from poverty is related to knowledge of the hidden rules. These students simply do not know middle- class hidden rules nor do most educa- tors know the hidden rules of genera- tional poverty. To be successful, students must be given the opportunity to learn these rules. If they choose not to use them, that is their choice. But how can they make the choice if they don't know the rules exist? Relationships are key When individuals who made it out of poverty are interviewed, virtually all cite an individual who made a signif- icant difference for them. Not only must the relationship be present, but tasks need to be referenced in terms of relationships. For example, rather than talk about going to college, the conversation needs to be about how the learning will impact relationships. One teacher had this conversation with a 17—year-old student who didn't do his math homework on positive and neg- ative numbers. "Well," she said, "I guess it will be all right with you when your friends cheat you at cards. You won't know whether they're cheating you or not because you don't know positive and negative numbers, and they aren't going to let you keep score, either." He then used a deck of cards to show her that he know how to keep score. So she told him, "Then you know positive and negative numbers. I expect you to do your homework." From that time on, he did his homework and kept an A average. The teacher simply couched the importance of the task according to the student's relationships. Conclusion Students from generational poverty need direct teaching to build cognitive structures necessary for leamin g. The relationships that will motivate them need to be established. The hidden rules must be taught so they can choose the appropriate responses if they desire. Students from poverty are no less capable or intelligent. They simply have not been mediated in the strate— gies or hidden rules that contribute to success in school and at work. i References Feuerstein, Reuven, et al. (I980), Instrumental Enrichment: An. Intervention Pro gram for Cognitive Modifiability. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman. .1005, Martin. (1967) The Styles of the Five Clocks. Language and Cultural Diversity in American Education, 1972. Abrahams, R. D. and Troike, R. C., lids. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Making Schools Work for Children in Poverty: A New Framework Prepared by the Commission on Chapter I , (1992). Washington, DC: AASA, December. Montano-Harmon, Maria Rosario (199]). Discourse Features of Written Mexican Spanish: Current Research in Contrastive Rhetoric and Its Implications. Hispania, Vol. 74, N0. 2, May 417—425. Montano—Harmon, Maria Rosario (1994). Presentation given to Harris County Department of Education on the topic of her research findings. Wheatley, Margaret J . (1992). Leadership and the New Science. San Francisco, CA: Berrett- Koehler Publishers. Previously printed in Instructional Leader and F ocus magazines. Ruby K. Payne, PhD., founder and president of aha! Process, Inc. (1994), with more than 30 years experience as a professional educator, has been sharing her insights about the impact of poverty — and how to help educators and other professionals work effectively with indi- viduals from poverty — in more than a thousand workshop settings through North America, Canada, and Australia. More information on her b00k,A Framework for Understanding Poverty, can be found on her website, www.ahaprocess.com. Editor's note: Ruby K. Payne presents A Framework for Understanding Poverty, a two-day workshop, on her US. National Tour each year and also has produced accompanying materials. Both are available on her website, wwwahapmcesscom. Also opt-in to aha!’s e-mail newslist for the latest poverty and income statistics [free] and other updates. aha! Process. Inc. (800) 424-9484 (281) 426-5300 ' 0 fax: (281) 426-5600 mme www.ahaprocess.com eyeoopenlng ...
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Understanding+.+.+.+Poverty - Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. Poverty...

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