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Re: Re: Miseducating Teachers about the Poor: A Critical Analysis of Ruby Payne's Claims about Poverty.
|Posted By: Norma Rice on February 29, 2008|
My comments were in praise of the critical analysis of Payne's popular but deficit ridden work by Randy Bomer, Joel E. Dworin, Laura May & Peggy Semingson — "Miseducating Teachers about the Poor: A Critical Analysis of Ruby Payne's Claims about Poverty." I suggest that you read this well researched artically carefully and thoughtfully. The students you are responsible to deserve a teacher who is able to put effort into understanding that the problems around you did not start last month or last year, and did not persist because other people were too stupid to fix them. Please don't insult your students in your eagerness to be the angel of salvation. If the problems were as static and two-dimensional as Payne portrays them there would not be poverty or inequality. The barrier you will need to break thru before you have any chance of helping anybody is the barrier you have not removed around yourself.
The indifference your students greet you with is an honest reflection of what they see. Your inability to assume a meaningful adult presence with them leaves them entrapped. They know you are gaming them and they know that they can not trust you. Until YOU can BE there, telling children, who know how to survive in their world, what YOU think they need to do to succeed in this world is a more dangerous illusion then anything offered to them on the street.
A fundamental objection to Payne's publication is its lack of original research. She has read excerpts, it appears, of works from various scholars of the 50's, 60s, & 70s and drawn some very simplistic, superficial, and self-serving conclusions to market to teachers with marginal educational backgrounds and limited experience with the complexity of our richly diverse society. Others have done much better research, created fantastic community based intervention programs, and watched as their successes were overshadowed by the even more successful systemic deepening of the problems through political and economic misadventures.
There is nothing in Payne's book that can help today's students. Booker T. Washington put forth a much better program over a 100 years ago, Jacob Riis, a muckraking journalist of the same period put forth one of the first major depiction of poverty and immigration in urban areas. The field of Social Work itself is rooted in that historic sod and has accumulated indepth research literature documenting the problems and solutions proposed and efforts attempted. Before you can begin to help yourself, your students, or your society you need the knowledge of those who've preceded you and whom you should humbly recognize as mentors.
I am sharing this information with you as one teacher to another. I have made many mistakes over the years because I, unintentionally, assumed that because the knowledge I had acquired gave me new insights that those insights were new to the world. They were not. I became a historian and learned to question more closely the persistence of social problems.