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Using the Lens of Economic Class to Help Teachers Understand and Teach Students from Poverty: A Response


by Ruby K. Payne — May 17, 2009

This is a response by Dr. Ruby K. Payne, author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, to “Miseducating Teachers about the Poor: A Critical Analysis of Ruby Payne’s Claims about Poverty” by Bomer et al. The lens of economic class is used to help teachers understand and teach students from poverty; Framework was never intended to be “an exhaustive tome on stratification in society”—whether that stratification pertains to race, gender, or ethnicity. The work is developed to build human capacity and assist with the intergenerational transfer of knowledge. Payne cites scholarly studies on multiple settings throughout the United States where her techniques have been implemented the past decade. She explains that “hidden rules,” a linchpin of her philosophy, are based on patterns—and all patterns have exceptions. Framework takes a cognitive approach to class based on “situated learning.” The work is at the micro level, not at the macro level of systems.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: May 17, 2009
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15629, Date Accessed: 7/23/2017 2:33:08 PM

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About the Author
  • Ruby Payne
    aha! Process, Inc.
    RUBY K. PAYNE, Ph.D., author, speaker, publisher, business owner and career educator, is an expert on the mindsets of economic classes and on crossing socioeconomic lines in education, work, and for social change. Dr. Payne’s work stems from more than 30 years of first-hand experience in the public schools, as head school department head, principal, and central office administrator of staff development. She became known for helping students from all economic backgrounds to achieve academic success. She received her B.A. from Goshen (IN) College, earned a master’s degree in English Literature from Western Michigan University, and her doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy from Loyola University in Illinois. She has written or co-authored more than a dozen books - with her seminal work, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, having sold over 1,000,000 copies. As founder and president of aha! Process, Inc., she has published more than fifty books and audio-visual products. Dr. Payne presents her work throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia, traveling extensively. She presents a variety of workshops based on her book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, together with her strategies for successfully raising student achievement and negotiating economic class barriers.
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