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Poverty and Motivation Final Copy

Poverty and Motivation Final Copy

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Published by: Meg Roe on May 03, 2012
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Poverty and Motivation Meg Roe Mr. Erpelding PHYE 210—Physical Education for Elementary Teachers Tuesday/ Thursday 8:30-9:45 AM

POVERTY AND MOTIVATION Abstract This paper is going to exam poverty and motivation, how they relate to each other, and how motivation can impact poverty. There is a high number of 0-18 year olds stricken by poverty. The government has programs to help alleviate the poverty situation in our schools, free lunch programs and Title I. We will look at those programs in regards to motivation. Motivation is much more that simply achieving a result, but rather an ideal to love learning. As


teachers, what is the “why” of learning and how do we gain access into student’s desire to learn?

POVERTY AND MOTIVATION Poverty and Motivation What is the role of poverty and motivation in education? More importantly, what is the role of motivation on poverty? Students’ who are stuck in their status quo are unable to achieve all they might. A teacher’s responsibility is much more than teaching, but influencing students to get past their family’s economic situation, create a desire to learn, and break past culture that can so readily hold them back. We are going to look at some specific statistics of poverty, and how the school system is working to fight against it. Then we will discuss empowerment and


motivation, how desire is the ultimate goal, how to motivate students, and where students can go if given the right direction. Poverty Poverty is all around us, and does not discriminate by color, race or gender. We have seen a trend of minorities being affected by poverty more than Caucasians (National Poverty Center, 2011). According to Redeaux, 90% of public school teachers are white and that

statistic is projected to grow, and approximately 1/3 of low income students are minorities (Redeaux, 2011). These numbers create classism within the school, making it difficult for teachers and students to relate. Not only do they have cultural and ethnic differences, but teachers often commute to their schools, so it is possible that they live in completely different economic situations. According to the National Poverty Center, “Children represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States; they are 24% of the total population, but 36% of the poor population” (2011, p. 3). This means that the largest populations being affected by the current economic downturn is the demographic from 0-18. According to the 2010 Census, there are 16.4 million children in poverty right now (National Poverty Center, 2011). It

POVERTY AND MOTIVATION is interesting to note that many of the families and individuals who are considered under the poverty line qualify for many in-kind benefits, such as food stamps, Medicare or Medicaid, housing subsidies, and other social services (National Poverty Center, 2011). We will also consider those families who are lower middle class, who do not qualify for any government assistance, but who are also struggling financially because of job loss, or the poor economy.


Many of these families are in just as dire situations as those who are classified as “in poverty” by the government. To motivate students, we must understand their personal situations. We must remember that each student, whether poor or advantaged, has the right to equal treatment and beneficial, free education. “If I want to understand economically disadvantaged students, I must understand poverty. If I want to understand poverty, I must understand classism inherent in the ways in which our society, and by extension, our schools, institutionalize poverty” (Redeaux, 2011, p. 101). In the Boise School District, 43.5% of elementary school students are on the free lunch program (Independent School District of Boise, 2011). This statistic does not include the many students who are entitled to a reduced lunch program because of their family’s financial situation. One of the various programs created to help with the classism in our local schools is the Title I program. It began in 1965 and was referred to as the “War on Poverty” by founder President Lyndon B. Johnson. Title I money was given to schools and districts that fit into a specific demographic to “close the achievement gap between schools in affluent neighborhoods and schools from poor communities” (Independent School District of Boise, 2011). A school is deemed a Title I school if 50% or more of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunches. Once a school receives Title I funding, the school is called a Title I school, and each student gets free lunch, whether their family personally qualifies for the program or not

POVERTY AND MOTIVATION (Independent School District of Boise, 2011). In this way, the students troubled by poverty are not singled out and every student is on a more even playing field. Empowering Students


There is a growing movement which endeavors to educated disadvantaged students. It is called the “culture of power”, which basically explains that the “white majority” hold the power and wants to pass that power onto their children (Redeaux, 2011). This is not necessarily a bad thing, as every parent wishes their children to live a better life than they themselves led, however it often times excludes those less fortunate and minorities. When students are educated in this “culture of poverty,” it has the power to change reality, as some people do not want to maintain the traditional. Minorities, the poor, lower middle class, and those students who are attending a Title I schools, “need to know and understand the power realities of this country with the purpose of changing these realities” (Redeaux, 2011, p. 100). They will then become empowered as individuals and believe in themselves. “If we are truly committed to bettering the lives of our students, we must join them on the road of struggle and avoid the path of least resistance” (Redeaux, 2011, p. 102). One of the best examples to date of a minority breaking the status quo is President Obama, who, as the first black president, is able to show other minorities that they can achieve their dreams also. Motivation As we empower all students, being aware of the classism we as a culture can so readily fall into; treating the minorities and poor students as equals to the more advantaged students, we will see a shift in not only our culture but in achievement and motivation in the classrooms. We not only want to create motivation, but a desire to learn.

POVERTY AND MOTIVATION “Desire is about pleasure and love. Western classical texts have always connected the pleasure principle with knowledge, such as Plato’s emphasis on Eros in society. Aristotle’s connection with learning and pleasure is more explicit: all men desire to know. Desire thus becomes a site of engagement between the known/familiar and the


unknown/strange, and this is a pleasurable site if there is a love of learning, a yearning to know and a willingness to be open to the unknown” (Mehta, 2008, p. 360). We as teachers need to create that balance between the familiar and strange. We need to understand what desire means in American culture; why it has been at the margins of the educational philosophies in most classrooms (Mehta, 2008). According to Mehta (2008), fear is a huge factor for not creating desire in our classrooms; fear of change, fear of being left out of globalism or changing the national identity of our educational programs. The educational programs in our country focus so much on structure, not necessarily creating an atmosphere to love learning. This paradigm change would revolutionize our education system and our workforce. Imagine a country where people are doing what they love simply because someone showed them what desire was and how to go after it. How do we achieve desire? How do we motivate students to not only do their work, but love it? “Whatever level of motivation your student brings to the classroom will be transformed, for better or worse, by what happens in that classroom” (Davis, 1999, p. 1). It is clear, desire is created or squashed by teachers. There are many good strategies to motivate students, “Give frequent, early, positive feedback that supports students’ belief that they can do well. Ensure opportunities for students’ success by assigning tasks that are neither to easy nor too difficult. Help students find personal meaning and value in the material.

POVERTY AND MOTIVATION Create an atmosphere that is open and positive. Help students feel that they are valued members of a learning community” (Davis, 1999, p. 1). More than the formula of do this, don’t do that, a teacher must find their own desire to teach


students. If the teacher is excited and loves learning, this attitude will transfer to their classroom. A teacher who treats every student, whether poor, minority, or wealthy, as the same, giving them equal opportunity to love learning, will empower those students to break past the “culture of power”. We need to give students’ the “why” of learning, a reason to gather knowledge; according to Geary, the why of learning is important in understanding “what children learn (reading vs. language), where they learn (school vs. social discourse), who needs to learn it (all children in modern societies vs. few in traditional ones), and when they learn (kindergarten vs. adulthood)” (2009, p. 198). Given the progression of culture and the evolution of education, the why of learning has changed substantially. If we give student’s the “why” of learning, they will be much more willing and motivated to do the what, where, who, and when of learning. The goal of teachers should be to combine the “why” of learning with the desire to love learning and motivate their students to achieve more than they could dream of on their own. To empower someone is to give resources far greater than free lunch and equality in the classroom, it is giving them a chance at being fulfilled in their life, by making goals, achieving them, and breaking through the status quo that so many students feel they can never challenge. The feeling of inferiority that encumbers many minorities and lower income people keep them stuck in a life they neither want nor feel they can leave. Teachers hold the key to a better society and world.

POVERTY AND MOTIVATION References Davis, B. (1999, 9 1). University of Hawaii . Retrieved 12 6, 2011, from Motivating Students: http://www2.honolulu.hawaii.edu/facdev/guidebk/teachtip/motiv.htm Geary, D. C. (2009). The Why of Learning. Educational Psychologist , 198-201. doi: 10.1080/00461520903029014 Independent School District of Boise. (2011). Boise School District Statistics. Retrieved 12 5, 2011, from Independent School District of Boise: http://www.sd01.k12.id.us/titleI/about.html


Independent School District of Boise. (2011). Title I Program, FAQ. Retrieved 12 6, 2011, from Independent School District of Boise: http://www.sd01.k12.id.us/titleI/about.html Mehta, S. (2008, August). Renegotiating desire in North America: risky education. Comparative Education , 359-370. doi: 10.1080/03050060802264900 Redeaux, M. (2011). The Culture of Poverty Reloaded. Monthly Review , 96-102. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=5&hid=127&sid=ec9312db-ef18-46e3-a114009983357352%40sessionmgr110&bdata=JmF1dGh0eXBlPWNvb2tpZSxjcGlkJmN1c3 RpZD1uczE0OTI0NiZzaXRlPWVob3N0LWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=a 9h&AN=62528518 University of Michigan. (2011). Poverty in the United States, FAQ. Retrieved 12 6, 2011, from National Poverty Center: http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/#5

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