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A World of Ignored Knowledge: The Key to Helping Low-Income Students Develop Literacy
Students from low-income families statistically struggle with literacy development, yet the lack of educator understanding of their home lives is a massive contributor to the struggle that often goes ignored. These students face misconceptions about their families, difficulties that are not paid mind to and a whole world of ignored knowledge they possess that is not even considered in assisting their education. Using this already possessed knowledge, teachers have a hidden means of supplementing their knowledge and overcoming their disadvantages in the classroom. There are a number of dangerous misconceptions about children and families who are living in poverty. These misconceptions are held by society at large as well as individuals, including the educators these students rely on. There is a widespread belief that lowsocioeconomic-status (LSES) families do not try and transcend their situations, enjoy and accept relying on welfare and live within a ³culture of poverty.´ The term ³culture of poverty´ was coined by 1950s anthropologist Oscar Lewis and blames the outlook and attitudes of the poor for their socioeconomic status (Rogalsky 198). This belief has slipped into mainstream culture even as the middle class has begun to shrink and poverty has risen exponentially. This victim-blaming perspective is dangerous in that it creates an immediate bias against the poor, which in educating
It is a simple. that is often cited for its attempts to deal with the problem of LSES students. Educators who accept sweeping generalizations about the reasons for poverty allow themselves to be shut out from the power based social. When educators stereotype families in this way their generalizations black out a whole group and prevent any type of understanding the educational problem from occurring. and abusers. These works attempt to understand the causes and problems of living in poverty. but fail in that they perpetuate stereotypes and portray poverty as a culture that is chosen by those living within it. Lack of comprehension of the causes of poverty do not only come from an academic shortfall but a simple case of having never ³been there. nor will they open their eyes to see the challenges their students are facing and need help overcoming. In her work. This leads to educators making the mistake of typecasting all individuals living in poverty as lazy.Bruner 2 low-income students isolates them from their peers and grossly misunderstands their lives and circumstances. One example is Ruby Payne¶s A Framework for Understanding Poverty (2005). Works like hers make poverty appear to be a simplistic situation to escape and those who live in it unwilling. Modern texts often used by educators perpetrate horrible stereotypes just as much as classic theories do. They report that parents do not attend parent-teacher conferences. PTA meetings or important extracurricular events and seem to be uninvolved and uncaring in much of their student¶s life and .´ Teachers often cite that their lowincome students come from families that do not interact with the classroom in any manner. ³welfare queens. easy solution from someone who has quite obviously never lived in poverty. Payne even states that there are ³middle-class rules´ that the poor must learn to follow and only then will the socioeconomic and educational gap be bridged (Rogalsky 198).´ addicts. unmotivated. stubborn and stupid. racist and classist implications of poverty and beliefs on poverty.
The ³culture of poverty´ theory does not even begin to explain the social aspects of who ends up in poverty and why. Teachers who believe that families living in poverty are ³content´ with their status or enjoy relying on welfare illustrate that they have clearly never been in either of these situations. Welfare benefits are extremely low and decrease to nearly nothing as a person gains employment. Racial segregation.Bruner 3 academic progress. considering a majority of lowincome students live with single mothers (Tileston & Darling 15). including homework. These teachers simply do not seem to consider the demand of the jobs held by most low-income parents. In California. there is no way they can successfully support the needs of a family. For example. These are situations that nobody wants to live within and this barely scratches the surface of the misconceptions held by some teachers. racist behaviors and isolation are shown to lead to increased segregated and concentrated poverty (Rogalsky 199). In a capitalist society money equals power and to have wealth is to have influence. Even if two parents work 40+ hours per week at minimum wage jobs. that totals out to $2560 a month for two employees working at the minimum wage of eight dollars/hour. Lack of respect for different ethnic groups leads to those ethnic groups being kept out of the mainstream and away from higher paying jobs and education that would lead to jobs. as of 2010. They do not consider that many parents would lose their jobs if they took the time deemed necessary for these events. By keeping the impoverished trapped in poverty society keeps them away from the source of power. Consider minorities statistically shown to be of a lower-income group. Social systems that are meant to aid the poor are also in place to keep the poorest individuals down in the same state. I am a twenty-one year old living at . forty hours a week. That total would be cut in half in a house only one income. These individuals often work hours that do not follow the conventional nine-to-five schedule that other parents enjoy.
which understandably caused concern because of prescriptions I take.Bruner 4 home. It leaves me to wonder how many unemployed women. Perhaps they could even take the additional step of visiting the student¶s home in incidences where parents do not have proper transportation to get to school consistently. they need to appreciate a different type of literacy. in no uncertain terms. living at home and from low-income families. I was told by a representative. they need to understand the additional struggles that their low-income students go through in the process of gaining literacy and accommodate them in ways that do not always fall into the conventional realm of the teacher. Teachers must also realize the kind of living situations their students may be in. This leaves their students without the parent-teacher interaction their peers have. the literacy that occurs outside of the classroom. many parents from low-income households work long and unconventional hours. were wrangled into pregnancy to keep vital medical insurance and health care. as well as lack of solid homework help and at home aide. how can they help their students? Teachers can help their students in two steps: First. that if I were to get pregnant my insurance would be reinstated. Teachers can offer these students extra help with homework and make time to seek out the parents. For example. Creative pedagogies will benefit these students in ways the traditional models cannot. as was mentioned earlier. I lost my Medical insurance on my birthday. Second. situations without things middle-class Americans tend . It is a teacher¶s job to recognize this problematic pattern and to give the student the extra help that they may or may not be lacking. Students living in low-income households do have struggles that are undeniable and require additional effort on the part of their teachers. perpetuating the real cycle of poverty for themselves and their future children Once educators get past the misconceptions they hold.
Things like a safe household and enough food to eat are often taken for granted in middle-class homes (Rogalsky 204). I definitely recall as a child having a lot of stress over things that no six year old ever should. Teachers also need to recognize when a student is under too much stress or is possibly facing a case of abuse or neglect. Children need to be approached with high expectations despite the odds. Teachers also need to find out (without continuing to stereotype) how to give students education they may be lacking because of their socioeconomic status. Children pick up on their parent¶s financial stressors a lot more easily than people would think. Teachers need to see when students are suffering and bring them to proper counseling venues. teachers help students become more comfortable and ready to learn. Teachers need to make sure that they are not only educating their students but helping students and their families understand Subsidized Lunch programs to help students afford a school lunch and facilitate interventions for unsafe homes. Chances are higher that students from LSES homes are struggling in school. Low income students often face more stress from their parents that is unfairly burdened on them as children who do not deserve to be a part of such struggling (Roseberry Mckibbin 25).Bruner 5 to see as basic needs. By helping students face their outside challenges. These students have a higher chance of lacking the experiences that make it easier for other students to connect their lives to their literacy development (Roseberry-McKibbin 17). so that they are able to transcend the additional obstacles in their paths. Teachers also need to be wary of their student¶s home lives and keep an eye out for key signs of things like neglect and abuse which are more common under the stressors that poverty brings. Teachers also need desperately to value their student¶s homes as places of learning. Until teachers understand the inner workings of a student¶s home-life. how can they adjust their curriculum to suit the needs of their students? Teachers need to understand where a student is .
Literacy education having value for students is crucial in making a connection. while lamenting the fact that they do not have enough literacy.´ was simply to have students map out their neighborhoods and households so that the teacher gains an understanding of what has value with the students. Why then. Not everything that a teacher instructs their student on can have a connection to all students.´ children develop the basis of their literacy before they come to the classroom.Bruner 6 coming from. these students are isolated from texts that relate to their life experiences. In Celese Roseberry-Mckibbin¶s book. What she does not cover is the validity of this dialect and how the student¶s mode of speaking as well as family values can be incorporated to teach literacy. Teachers need to understand out-of-school literacy and its power in teaching in-school literacy. but educators must strive towards this to make students from LSES households feel their culture has worth. One strategy mentioned by Jennifer Rogalsky in her article ³Mythbusters: Dispelling the Culture of Poverty Myth in the Urban Classroom. Studies with adult students show that adults learned better . Students from low-income families often have higher value on their families and close circles of friends and this can be used in education. They witness literacy events all around them and this develops into their school-based literacy. Sometimes. she states that students from low-income families can have a less formal dialect. a mode of discourse. which of course causes conflict when they arrive at school (31). Teachers must be comfortable enough to pull away from Standard English and embrace multiple modes of literacy. According to Yetta Goodman¶s article The Development of Initial Literacy. If a student makes that connection to their ³real world´ more low-income students would not feel isolated from the school world. do teachers completely ignore the literacy events that do not occur within the walls of a classroom? Teachers especially ignore the literacy that is all around low-income students.
If an educator takes what is familiar they can base their lesson around it.Bruner 7 from connecting to basic literacy they were familiar with and it more easily expanded from there into more academic literacy (Lynch 516). As a student who has been the low-income student many experts talk about. ³did not reflect on many of these everyday events as reading or writing activities. low-income parents. Jacqueline Lynch said that when asked about literacy at home. Teachers can make literacy more meaningful if they apply it to the daily lives and understanding of the students they teach. Something as simple as basic list writing is a literacy event. Educators can use the experiences that they find in children¶s daily lives and make literacy acquisition meaningful. I really hope to have an understanding of what to do as a teacher. A key in bridging the gap between students in high and low economic standings is to make the at home education of all students relate to what is being taught in the classroom. This knowledge needs to be played upon so that children can connect. The families of low-income students are not just burdens. to bridge the . writing and overall literacy (Moll & Gonzales 160). often language minority children and bring them in from the outskirts of their own educations. perhaps because out-of-school print literacy was not valued or integrated into their earlier education´ (518). without really knowing. Students who come from low-income. By building on the literacy that students are more likely to have witnessed at home. one that allows students from all backgrounds to share what literacy is to them and their families. less academically educated homes see literacy as a completely different thing (Goodman 321). Teachers need to be able to embrace a more non-traditional mode of teaching. This can be applied to children who may lack upper academic literacy. but ³funds of knowledge´ that cannot be deemed as worthless to the learning of reading. teachers are able to connect between these forms of literacy and develop more advanced academic literacy. Teachers can take the unique experiences of low-income.
They exist for many varied social and political reasons. Every student deserves the opportunity to learn and be literate. . but they must be dealt with without misconception and with a new type of educational understanding. regardless of their situation and using what students already know is the best way to begin.Bruner 8 gaps that are there.
Web. ³The Development of Initial Literacy´ Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook. Barry M. Jennifer. Barry M. Kroll. and Mike Rose. and Mike Rose. Yetta. Web. Darling. Tileston. Eugene R Kingten. 198-209. ³Mythbusters: Dispelling the Culture of Poverty Myth in the Urban Classroom´ Journal of Geography. Kroll. Norma. Ellen Cushman. Illinois: Solution Tree Press. ³Print Literacy Engagement of Parents from Low-Income Backgrounds: Implications for Adult and Family Literacy Programs´ Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. ³Lessons from Research with Language Minority Children´ Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook. Ed. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Donna Walker & Sandra K. Roseberry-McKibben. Increasing Language Skills of Students from Low Income Backgrounds. Martins. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Gonzales. Ed. March 2009.Bruner 9 Works Cited Goodman. Luis C. 2001. San Diego: Plural Publishing. Ellen Cushman. ERIC. Lynch. 2001. Moll. Web. Print. 2008. Rogalsky. 2008. Eugene R Kingten. . Martins. Jacqueline. Print. 509-521. 108. Print. Why Culture Counts: Teaching Children of Poverty.
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