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Framework for Understanding Poverty Paperback – Jan 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: AHA! Process (January 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1929229488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1929229482
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 17.8 x 1.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #90,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
To better understand students and adults from poverty, a working definition of poverty is "the extent to which an individual does without resources." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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By David Ramalho on Sept. 15 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very informative and easy to read.

A definite read for those working with students and even adults in poverty.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 259 reviews
107 of 115 people found the following review helpful
Middle Class Analysis of Generational Poverty April 7 2007
By Timothy Haugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For a middle class reader and former teacher like myself, it is easy to like this book. There is so much that jumps out from the page to make a reader say, "I know people like that" or "I've seen that before." Still, a more considered, less emotional reading shows that Ms. Payne's analysis does have some limitations.

The strengths: I was impressed by the opening with its reference to the types of resources (of which financial are only a part) people need to break out of poverty. I was intrigued by the section on the "hidden rules" of the different classes. Equally intriguing was the section on use of the "formal" and "casual registers" in speaking. There are also a number of practical classroom techniques described in the latter part of the book.

The weaknesses: Payne did a great job of describing resources but never brought out anything useful from it. The practical examples of speaking registers seemed silly and out-of-date, lessening the impact of a useful idea though I think many teachers already take this into account even if they can't articulate it as well as Payne. Payne also has a tendency to make generalizations I'm not sure stand up across the board. In the end, though I think her analysis is useful in connecting better with parents and students stuck in generational poverty, it is less effective in understand other situations; particularly, borderline cases.

All books are impacted by the experience a reader brings to them. This one, however, even more so. For a someone deeply entrenched in the middle class, this books speaks directly to you. I think that a reader from poverty or wealth (or a middle class reader with wider experience of other classes) will hear a more sour notes in this text. Nevertheless, there is much of value here.
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
These are My Students! April 6 2007
By Barbara R. Jensen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I teach developmental English in a community college. Unfortunately and regretably, I used to enter my classrooms with my middle-class perceptions. Heck... I am middle class. What else could I enter with? I didn't know any better. However, this book has changed my perceptions and therefore my teaching strategies and practices. I want my students to succeed. I'm addicted to student success. I live for it! Still, I just couldn't seem to get my students to think beyond the immediate present, to see a world beyond their own neighborhoods, to see that options do exist, to accept responsibility for their choices, and to stop blaming someone or something for their failures -- that's in the past - deal with what you can do and use NOW! No more "victim" mentality! Where was their motivation to strive instead of slack? Where was their motivation to go to school for something more than a financial aid check? Why did they seem addicted to their adrenalin rush of chaos followed by the crash of their roller coaster lives of happiness and then sorrow? Why were they stuck? Why was it okay to just "get by"? Overall, why weren't they like I was as a student? After reading this book, I found many of the answers I needed to help my students change their thinking -- their perceptions - their unproductive behavior -- most of all my attitudes, teaching methods, and best practices for reaching them and helping them.

In spite of my personal affinity for each student, I often felt frustrated, defeated, lost, angry, unsure of where to turn, but then I read this book. Seriously, I would advise all to turn here! Turn each page! Learn about the defeatist and survivalist mindset so many of our students enter our classes with. Learn about how to change that mindset and inspire a special and unique individual buried within that limiting shell. I am realizing that I can help do this! I can help students make this change. This book is one of the major keys to doing so!

Highly recommended!
155 of 194 people found the following review helpful
The worst MISUNDERSTANDING of poverty Dec 12 2007
By H. Ponthieux - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I stumbled across this title as I was searching through university materials being taught in current education courses. As a non-profit circuit employee experienced in my own history of poverty and that of the South Louisiana/ New Orleans area, I find her ideas and presentations of the poor to be unrealistic in the least. For example, Payne cites her 3-year (at the time) marriage to her husband Frank, who grew up in poverty, as a source for her ideas and experience in poverty. She also included a list of "Could you survive in..." and lists various classes. Under wealth, she lists being able to order from menus in various languages as a staple for survival. Dr. Payne, these are not necessary for survival in the middle and upper class -- they are mainly ways of fitting in. When addressing poverty, she states one needs to know how "to use a knife as scissors" and "which churches have the best rummage sales." These reflect survival, although creating or enforcing stereotypes if not followed up with field experiences or more VALID research.
My main concern however falls on educators. Teachers and administrators alike have praised Payne's work and used it as the basis for their own understanding of poverty. PLEASE look to more salient research and prominent authorities. Too often have I overheard educators fall all over this book, despite its extreme flaws. I DO NOT recommend this title to anyone looking to learn about children or poverty. However, I do recommend Lisa Delpit, bell hooks, and the Rethinking Schools publishers for accurate information about classism, racism, and social justice in the classroom.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
not supported by evidence July 18 2011
By K19170 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
To my fellow teachers:
Payne's underlying assumptions and conclusions about poor people are not supported by research in sociology or anthropology. Her conclusions about classroom practice are also not supported by research in education. She uses quaint and bizarre anecdotes from her life as a white female to draw quaint and bizarre conclusions about the lives of every student from a poor family. She builds a sturdy and vicious deficit model to categorize and simplify students. This books creates low expectations, sure, but the dangerous part is how it makes middle-class white female teachers -- who empathize with Payne -- believe her book somehow helps them understand their students.

Ruby Payne will not help you understand your poor students. She never met your students! She doesn't know their lives, cultures, histories, you know them better than she does. So if you want to understand, you need to listen to the students, listen to their parents, learn their languages, spend time in their neighborhoods. Then, create more and more ways to open your classroom and bring students and community in, for extra hours every day.

So, there's a middle-class teacher who still thinks the book might be good? That teacher should show it to some of her friends who grew up in poverty, then listen to them laugh at Payne's ridiculous examples. If that middle-class teacher doesn't have many friends who grew up in poverty, well, that's part of the problem.

For anyone who wants to critically understand Payne's ideas, I recommend instead reading "Miseducating Teachers about the Poor: A Critical Analysis of Ruby Payne's Claims about Poverty," by Bomer, Dworin, May & Semingson (2008) in Teachers College Record.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
!Caution! Feb. 15 2007
By J. Camarena - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was a good attempt at understanding poverty; however, some of the information was unsupported. Payne provides strategies for working with students from a low socio-economic status that were positive. For instance, the strategies were charts, graphs, and scenarios that were provided to better understand her message. Payne also explains that poverty is not always about finances. She is well intentioned, but she could have provided more unbiased research.

In an effort to understand poverty she defines and describes "Hidden Rules" within each social class. For example, Dr. Payne claims education for people in poverty is abstract. We would disagree with this point of view for the simple fact that it is over generalization. On the other hand, she makes a good point in saying that the different rules are to be used for different situations and not one set of rules or behaviors is better than the other.

We feel that anyone who plans on reading "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" should do so, but only with a critical eye. For those who wish to understand poverty and this is the first book they read, must be aware that some of the information is not supported by statistics or studies. For instance, Payne says that women in poverty use their bodies to acquire what they want and need. She also says that if you are in poverty, everything in life is seen as a joke.

As well intended as Dr. Payne's attempt is at establishing a "framework" she fails to address issues of race and gender and how these issues also affect ones socio-economic class. Over all, this book should be read but the reader should understand that it is not a "framework" and the ideas should not be applied to "all" individuals in poverty.