Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Framework For Understanding Poverty

Payne, Ruby K (1996). A Framework For Understanding Poverty.  Highlands, TX.

This summary pertains to chapter 3, Hidden Rules Among the Classes.  Ruby Khan's book about creating a framework for poverty provides not only a framework for understanding the poverty class but for understanding the middle and wealthy classes as well.  Chapter 3 focuses on articulating some the hidden rules inherent in each class and focuses particularly on those rules which impact achievement in the school and in the workplace.  

The chapter begins with a quiz designed to establish which class you belong to.  For each of the three classes; poverty, middle and wealthy, a number of tasks or items are presented, and the  reader is prompted to check if they know how to do it.  The premise is that you most likely belong to the class to whom you can do most of the tasks.

The chapter includes a chart which summarizes the major hidden rules among the three classes.    The chart includes summaries of how each class interprets various elements of their lives.  Money, personality, food and clothing are all categories which the different classes value for different qualities and in different ways.  For instance,  amongst the poverty class, clothing is valued for individual style, where as in the middle class it is valued for quality and acceptance within the norms of middle class society, in the wealthy class clothing is valued for its artistic sense and expression.

More importantly the text suggests that different classes interpret the world through very different lenses, and that assumptions about an individuals intelligence, work ethic and values need to be made through the appropriate lens.


Stacey Caillier said...

Bryan, I'm glad that you ventured into this text, particularly since it has become standard fare in many PD and credentialing programs for teachers. There has also been some substantive critique of Payne's framework that I think you would enjoy checking out - most notably that in putting forth a monolithic framework for class, Payne has missed much of the nuance that happens within classes (and which could result in misguided assumptions about particular kids). Also, that she is operating from a deficit model, wherein poor kids are found lacking and are the ones to be changed (versus taking a more critical stance toward schooling, which rewards middle-class behaviors and parenting, and thinking of ways schools could change).

One of my colleagues from Hamline was pretty vehement about this issue. He is the founder of EdChange, a group whose work I think you would be interested in. You can check out a shorter version of an essay where he critiques Payne's work here:
It's great to see both perspectives and I'd love to know what you think!

Another book, one of my faves, that you might be interested in is Unequal Childhoods - Lareau puts forth some really interesting theories around the intersection between class, race, parenting and schooling that I have found useful and compelling!

Kcapozzoli said...

This sounds fascinating. I would be so interested in seeing this quiz and finding out more. I hope you have a chance to read and report on other chapters. Have you read Pedagogy of the Oppressed?

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