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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on June 28, 2004
As a psychology researcher in inner-city schools, I am drawn to the description of this book because as a field (edu. research), we do indeed lack a theoretical framework to understand poverty in relation to school achievement. But this book falls very short in presenting such a framework. The main data of the book is the author's anecdotal experience, which she summarizes in almost in-your-face presentation of poverty case studies. But a framework fails to draw on various existing well-researched directions in poverty and in education to present a coherent parsimonious way to understand complex phenomena. The conclusions drawn by this author is thinly baesd on a few limited writings (mostly on linguistics), while largely a collection of personal opinions. The author stated that the idea for the book proceeded her years of "research" experience. That may be the problem. A hindsight retrospection wears very tainted lenses. The "years of experience" is not examined in real-time with specific research questions. Rather, they are selectively drawn upon to be coherent only with the author's current thinking. The reference list in the back is more in depth than what the author actually put in text. The mostly pointless clip art inserted throughout the book made it seem like the publisher is trying to squeeze more pages into a other-wise small book. The two pages comparing classes are interesting (but by no means research or data based). They did become very stereotypical (like the local evening news). Educational recommendations are very simplistic and lack explicit logical reasoning. I question the book's treatment of poverty students as a different breed, indicating that somehow they need to be taught special rules in order to even begin learning. For example, the notion that somehow poverty students don't have a sense of choices thus fail to understand causal relationship leading from choices to consequences. What?! That's a very very broad claim that is unlikely to be measurable. In child development, there comes a certain age where many children have trouble realizing (thus having to learn) that choices are related to consequences, regardless of their race, culture, or, income. These claims are quite outrageously stereotypical. Overall, Framework for Understanding is neither framework nor understanding. It may be of some interest here and there, but its title surely over-claims the substance of its content.
For interested readers, I recommend John Ogbu's ethnographical study on Shaker Heights, titled "Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb".
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on May 30, 2016
This is a fast read that really answers a lot of question for teachers, like myself, who work with students who live in poverty. There are great suggestions on how to meet those students needs but most importantly understand how the mindset of poverty, middle class and wealthy differ. I am hoping this will help me understand my students better and help me approach my teaching in a more affective way.
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on May 21, 2015
This is a critical read for anyone working with people in poverty. The 'scales fall from one's eyes' as the previously incomprehensible actions of people is revealed as the logical actions of those surviving in a Culture of Poverty, making decisions that ensure survival within that culture but restricting movement OUT of poverty. Makes it exceedingly difficult to 'blame the victim' and reminds that knowledge is Power!
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on December 18, 2003
This book does not provide any 'understanding' of poverty. It gives a very superficial and stereotype picture of poverty children and families. In fact, these stereotypes are part of the social problem of poverty itsef!
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on April 15, 2004
There are a few scenarios that may cause you to look at things from a viewpoint different from your own. Whether this makes teachers develop more compassion towards poor students is questionable to me. Most teachers I know already have that in place.
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on April 21, 2004
I have read the negative reviews and the positives...the book is not all five stars. It is not poverty that elicits certain behaviors, but the values & education level the family holds. I don't believe poverty equates to all the things Ms. Payne suggests, but values and level of education do. That is why we have so many "wealthy" people in America who behave like those Ms. Payne has characterized as the poverty class--their values and education are lacking. I work with immigrants, many of them display the characteristics of the "wealthy" set, though they are quite poor. The book is a generalization, and there are truths and like any generalization, there are dangerous falsehoods. It is illuminating for me to read it though and see that the behavior I see in my classroom is more universal than I thought. So for me it helps in some abstracted way, but nothing to herald as fact.
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on September 15, 2014
Very informative and easy to read.

A definite read for those working with students and even adults in poverty.
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on April 28, 2004
I have worked for the Texas Department of Human Services for the past ten years, and wish I had read this book before I started. Understanding the culture of poverty is needed in order to facilitate the growth of those in poverty on the economic social and educational ladder. While this book addresses the overall aspects of the poverty culture, it fails to properly document the other aspects that affect the learning process, such as child abuse and cultural differences. In all, this is a book worth reading for not only teachers but anyone who works with those in lower income levels. The book is a treasure.
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on July 14, 2004
Payne does a wonderful job of showing how economic status influences a person's world view and affects his/her reality. She does this while allowing us to step out of our own reality and experience the view from other socioeconomic classes. For people who work with the public, it's a valuable resource.
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on June 24, 2004
This was an eye opener for me. Poverty isn't just financial as I had thought. It put into words what I had been thinking and questioning. I mentor and I wish it would have addressed more solid solutions to help with these problems of society.
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