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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: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #138,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Inside This Book

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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 (beta) 267 reviews
108 of 116 people found the following review helpful
Middle Class Analysis of Generational Poverty April 7 2007
By Timothy Haugh - Published on
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 The practical examples of speaking registers seemed silly and out-of-date, lessening the impact of a useful idea though I think many teachers already take this into account even if they can't articulate it as well as Payne.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.
52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
These are My Students! April 6 2007
By Barbara R. Jensen - Published on
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!
166 of 207 people found the following review helpful
The worst MISUNDERSTANDING of poverty Dec 12 2007
By H. Ponthieux - Published on
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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Biased stereotyping Feb. 24 2013
By Howlcat - Published on
Format: Paperback
I simply cannot understand the rave reviews that this book has received. The 'research' is outdated and based on 3rd party anecdotes. I found it to be extremely biased and obviously written by someone who has not known poverty. It is not a peer reviewed publication, but rather self-published, which casts further doubt on its validity. I read it as it was used for professional development in my school district, but I was very disappointed. I work in a school with much diversity (23 language backgrounds) and high poverty, and while reading with my demographics in mind, I found myself thinking over and over again that the author has a very narrow world view of the culture of privilege and how to achieve it - dress like her, talk like her, think like her is all it takes... What this book does accomplish is to make those of us who are privileged smile and find affirmation that we have done it right and those poor things who are not so privileged just need to try to be like us.
42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
A Framework for Misunderstanding Poverty Feb. 15 2007
By Shirley, Jaime, & Adriano (CSUS/BMED graduate students) - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book was well-intentioned, and provided some strategies and information that could help students of all backgrounds. However, it was quite short of being a framework for understanding and working with students from diverse backgrounds. Ruby Payne was able to articulate some good arguments for why students may not be as prepared as other students who come from more affluent backgrounds, but most of her examples and explanations were overgeneralizations and lacked credibility of those who really experience poverty firsthand.

This book should be read with a critical eye, and the ideology from which Ruby Payne writes should not be taken at face value. Many of her examples were negative and stereotypical, sometimes offensive; in fact, her view on poverty was based on a deficit model in which people are in poverty because they lack middle class values, beliefs, language use, knowledge and skills. It could be dangerous to recommend this book to teachers and employers who are not critical, and take the author's ideology as universal truth without further research.

Ruby Payne attempts to provide some kind of "framework for understanding poverty," but it is more like trying to analyze people who come from such a background, and not necessarily poverty in and of itself. She makes some good points; however, we do not agree with everything she states about people who live in poverty. "Violence and jail" as a part of their everyday life and seeing it as normal is highly questionable. As a teacher, this book may provide some insight as to how to work with people from different classes, but there are many other strategies and theories that prove to be more powerful than some of the ones she explains. Some exemplary alternatives to this book are Christine E. Sleeter's "Un-Standardizing Curriculum," "Sonia Nieto's Affirming Diversity," and George Michie's "Holler if You Hear Me."