Sunday, March 08, 2009

A 14-Year-Old Takes Down Ruby Payne

Have people seen this youtube video? Not to be missed.

65 comments:

Lorraine Kasprisin said...

Readers of this blog might be interested in viewing our latest issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy that addresses the Ruby Payne phenomena. The theme, "The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty: Rethinking Poverty and Education," can be found at: http://dev.wce.wwu.edu/Resources/CEP/eJournal/v004n001/ Our blog will continue the conversation - http://journalofeducationalcontroversy.blogspot.com/ We were just about to put up the YouTube of the 14 year old also.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at the vitriol directed at a woman who has spent her life trying to make a difference. One simply cannot argue with her assertions - all you have to do is look around at our world. She sees it (thank God) not from an academic viewpoint, but from a common-sense humanistic viewpoint. Ruby Payne is dead-on accurate in her observations. It's obvious she has not spent her life in pursuit of PhD's but in classrooms, where she actually learned about class, instead of reading about it in academic journals.

She is constantly under fire from the academic community for using anecdotal methods in her work.

Indeed Ruby Payne is very anecdotal, a strategy that has been utilized by several fairly well known and respected teachers over the years - among them: Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, Mother Teresa - well, you get the point.

As a taxpayer, I am proud to have my tax money go to someone who is spending their life making a difference. It's a shame she has to fight and defend herself from bureaucrats and academic critics to help the rest of us.

When I was a child my Mother taught us that little people talk about people, average people talk about things, & big people talk about ideas. (Notice that Ruby Payne is talking about solving huge problems in our society, and the little people are talking about Ruby Payne)

Mom also taught us that it's not hard to separate the big people from the little people: big people are the people who are doing - taking action. Little people are criticizing them for it.

My mother is proving to be a smart woman.

As to your 14 year old whiz kid - he's typical of many 14 year olds raised with advantages - he knows everything! Why should he listen to a recognized authority who is a successful author and who has spent her life researching a problem? Surely he, with his vast experience in poverty and life, knows better. We should thank him for sharing his vast life experience (and knowledge of poverty) with those of us less enlightened.

Bob: worldwide teacher (22 countries so far)/human being/ student of humanity

The Confused Dad said...

Bob... 22 countries. Aren't you special. How does this in any way support your thesis?

There's a very good reason academics have challenged her methodology: generalizability. I could tell you stories, all true, about the worst teachers I've ever had. All of them were women. The best teachers, in contrast, were all men. Therefore, based on my anecdotal "evidence," men are *always* better teachers than women. Based on this, men should be given preferential treatment during hiring season. Right? After all, *MY* anecdotal evidence is accurate. So it applies to you, too.

You'll accept that ridiculous logic, yes?

I'm curious, too, about your unwarranted comparison of Ruby Payne to Jesus, the Buddha, Gandhi (one presumes you mean Mohandas), and Mother Teresa. None of these people ever charged money for their labor and teaching. Ruby Payne, even assuming a 10% royalty on her $23 book - the industry standard is 15% - has, in contrast, netted at least $4,600,000,* not including the thousands of dollars in speaking fees she's gotten. She's made an industry of herself - which in itself is great. I love capitalism and free enterprise - that's based on a flawed premise: that she is THE expert on poverty. That "expertise" is grounded in the so-called logic I illustrated above.

Not that I think she's lying, mind you. I have no doubt that her personal experiences are all as she described them. She's a gifted presenter and compelling storyteller. All her evidence lacks, really, is evidence.

Finally, why are you pooh-poohing PhDs? Ruby Payne has one. So do I. She's worked with kids in poverty. I do the same every day, at a school where 98% of our kids qualify for federal free or reduced lunches and a number of kids show up daily in the same uniform. And I mean they literally wear the same shirt and pants day after day.

Say, maybe I should write a book on poverty. I'm as qualified as she is. More so, even: as a rural public school teacher, I make a hell of a lot less than she does.


*The cover of her book, which I have, claims "millions" of copies sold. Even if we assume only 2 million, that's 2,000,000x$2.30.

samuels said...

It is a great read in getting the better type of information.

Boy said...

I came from poverty.

In the video, the boy talks a lot about "poor people." "Poor people" are people who don't get to go to the movies every week. "Poor people" are folks who have to buy a used car. "Poor people" shop at Wal-Mart for their clothes.

What Ruby Payne discusses is poverty. In my household, as a child, we didn't eat for two or three days at a time. In my house, we walked everywhere we needed to go. My sister and I put on shows for my family for when we didn't have electricity to run the TV. My sister and I got used clothes once a year, at the beginning of school, from whatever church group we could get to donate them to us. We went swimming in the storm sewer because it was the closest thing we had to a pool.

I worked my way through college. Worked, not got grants, and I have been a teacher for five years now. I have no scientific evidence for Ruby Payne's claims, other than I recognize what she's talking about. What she says is true-believe it or not. I think it's repulsive for a middle/upper class (look at those headphones, the carefully applied wallpaper border, the lovely ambient lighting) child to rant for nine minutes about something he could have no concept of, without offering a thesis of his own-until minute eight, when the watcher finally understands that it's Ruby Payne's use of annecdotal evidence that he is having trouble with.

As a society, we have to realize that people ARE different, and as a society, we need to figure out effective ways to interact with one another. Ruby Payne does not advocate changing the ways in which other people think, behave, or believe-but offers a platform for middle-class Americans to understand the needs of impoverished children.

I'm glad she's made that much money. Isn't that the basis of capitalist America? Taking what you know and pulling yourself up by the bootstraps to make a pile of money? Rants against Ruby Payne sound like bunches of sour grapes to me...

Tony said...

I read Ruby Payne's book on, Understanding Poverty. On page 42 of the hidden rules among classes, Ruby Payne classifies people's behavior and choices based on income. I believe there is some truth to it, but she can't possibly apply that to every single individual. Everybody is different.

Mrs. Brink said...

Ruby Payne's book was taken too heavily by the 14 year old kid in the video. Despite being highly intellectual, he failed to see the value from the perspective of a teacher who works on teaching in a school district demanding middle class values where such a high percentage of our students are Low SES.
Yes I agree that not all of characteristics/ hidden rules apply to every individual.
First of all, the characterization check list was meant to give a frame for mind of things that an individual from the classes may be thinking. It does not mean that because you know how to "use a knife as a scissors" you are poor. And vice versa that just because you are impoverished you "use a knife as a scissors." The checklist is to help you think of differences you may see between the classes and bring those to the front of your mind while reading and reflecting on your needs from the text.
The same goes for the hidden rules. Just because you have a value within one of the classes doesn’t mean that is where you belong. It is a majority selection, but it needs to be taken into consideration that each individual is unique and has a unique blend of values, skills, and resources.
Ruby Payne’s work although highly anecdotal does give a good perspective on the gap between the classes. Her book is encourages a lot of reflection on situations encountered in the classroom, why they may be occurring, and how to work through them. Her book and suggestions are highly beneficial to the classroom educator.

Ann said...

I just finished reading the book A Framework for Understanding poverty. It was a good resource for trying to build relationships with students from various backgrounds. I understand as an educator that students do not just fit into a mold. There are exceptions to every theory. I expect the best from all of my students and in my perfect world I can do this.
It was great to see a video of a student's perception of poverty and the differences among classes.

Genesis said...

Well said Bob, and to respond to our 14 year-old, John on You Tube:
No, this is not a book full of research and data. This is one person's professional opinions, ideas, and observations. I appreciate her insight and experiences. I can relate to this and benefit from this when teaching my impoverished students. Whether this is scientific or not does not matter to me. Something needs to be done to help these kids falling through the cracks. Her rules for survival may sound stereotypical to you, but from my own experience they are very realistic. She is not saying that these are NNEDED to survive or you will NOT survive without this knowledge. Rather, she is pointing out the differences in the daily lives of the different classes. She is not saying there is a differing level of intelligence like you have summed up. And why on earth would she say a poor person needs to know how to use a knife like a scissors? I can answer that for you. Many poor people do not have scissors, a tool that you and I take for granted and are sure to have lying in a drawer somewhere. I have had to use a knife like a scissors while working with a poor family in their home. Does that mean I could survive poverty? No, but I can empathize and understand that Payne is giving us examples of how the poor need to be creative with what they have and to use other tools for alternate purposes at times. That helps me understand, as a teacher, why Suzie came to school with pencil scribbled all over her picture, when the directions were to 'color with crayons.' Suzie does not have crayons, so she used her only tool available. Some teachers would say she did not follow directions and would make her stay in for recess to re-do it. By understanding Suzie's situation, I would either send her home with a box of my crayons for this assignment or allow her to turn in her homework as is. Can you understand how this can be a useful tool to middle-class teachers with middle-class experience, being placed in a low-income school with impoverished students? I have learned from my students. I know which dumpster is the best to get food from. I do not know how to get someone out of jail, but I see them handle it with ease. Intelligence has nothing to do with it, it's the way they have to learn and what they have to learn to fit their culture. What are your ideas, John?

Josh said...

The boy does a great job of being critical but does not contribute anything. Much of this book is back by research. I am not sure what he is adding.

Ann said...

I agree that you can not make generalizations about any group of people. There are many in generational poverty that Payne’s theories do not fit. My great grandfathers were coal miners and farmers as were their sons. All were quite poor. My mom grew up in a house with two bedrooms, and six children. No insulation and an outhouse. Yet education was valued. They didn’t spend their money as soon as they got it, they saved as much as they could, when they could.
I have students that are poor and yet don’t know how to get a gun, or dig food out of a grocery store dumpster. Some of them have parents that very involved in their education. Perhaps Payne is only looking at inner city poverty.

skreps said...

Ruby Payne has helped to teach many of us the hidden rules of the middle class and why as teachers we must understand poverty. I am not sure taking her course or being trained in our district has helped me to figure out why this cycle of poverty continues. I do believe that her teachings offer us useful data to help our students acheive more than if I did not understand. I come from a middle class family and I could not understand the fear of having to move in one day or not have food on my table, but knowing that this is the life of some of my students makes me realize that I am more than just a teacher, I must strive to be a role model.

eagleprin22 said...

I am a recently retired principal who worked in a high needs district for many years. Ruby Payne has been studying poverty and the ways children learn for many years. I was fortunate to attend several days of training with Ruby Payne and others from her organization. It was phenominal; life altering and impacted my professional development with my faculty until I retired. The original book-A Framework for Understanding Poverty, is simply that-a framework. Her thoughts are right on, her strategies are truly effective and "research-based" or not, she gets it. I can name many "research-based" (supposedly) programs that are not nearly as effective as Ruby Paye's ideas. Reasearch-based is the new buzz phrase for 'I have a new product to sell and I need to get it on the market quickly'. Reading First was "research-based". What a joke that was, per the 'research'...

lblenker said...

Although I think it is hard to generalize a group of people, I find Payne's intentions to be just. I am an eduactor of many students who live in poverty, but have never had to live this way of live myself, I am middle class and have always been middle class. I find the hidden rules to be a window into some of my families lives. Research, in its nature, is not personal and individual-based. It is fact-driven and devried from statistics. There will always be exceptions to the norm when it comes to research.

S. Le Blanc said...

S. Le Blanc

While intellectuals may suggest that Ruby Payne's work is not grounded in valid research, it is interesting to note that individuals raised in poverty find her work to strike a positive cord within them. Granted there are valid concerns in what her critics have observed, but I find her work to be a tool in regard to gather insight into how to relate with not only individuals in poverty, but those in middle and affluent classes as well. Yes, they are generalities but they do provide a framework in which one can approach various situations in regard to helping students succeed. Her hidden rules are guidelines which carefully used to help you to connect with students. I find her dedication and willingness to help students succeed inspirational and her strength based approach shows an appreciation towards the human spirit which is commendable. Boy hit the nail on the head when he made the following statement; "As a society, we have to realize that people ARE different, and as a society, we need to figure out effective ways to interact with one another. Ruby Payne does not advocate changing the ways in which other people think, behave, or believe-but offers a platform for middle-class Americans to understand the needs of impoverished children." That was her intent and her guidelines offer the first step in terms of developing an understanding of others.

Sherman Dorn said...

In a world with thousands of caring individuals who understand a great deal about social class, why do school districts feel the need to pay so much money for what is available for free or far less elsewhere? Even if I agreed with everything Ruby Payne said (and I have some very serious concerns about large chunks of it), she's running a very clever business getting wealthy off poverty. It's very hard to avoid concluding that it's a substantial waste of taxpayer resources.

wieducator said...

Payne and her critics all make valid points.
I think there is one point all can agree on and that is the knowledge that poverty negatively impacts student learning and therefore schools need to be leaders in eliciting change. The true debate comes in what form that change should take.

KG said...

I feel that Payne is speaking directly from her experiences, the information she shares was her reality. I think she would agree that there are all spectrums of people, and that there is certainly a continuum to all socioeconomic backgrounds. She has focused her research to display some common behaviors among the classes. Her findings have been very helpful for me to put myself into the shoes of people in poverty. Understanding is essential in order to take appropriate steps toward change or effective intervention with studetns. I feel that the works of Payne help with this understanding; especially for someone who has no personal experience with poverty. I think that the most important aspect is what is done with the information. Knowing where someone may have come from or what struggles they are facing in their life, can arm you with a sense of empathy and understanding. As long as we treat each student with respect, value, and honor, while offering them a rigorous curriculum with careful consideration to their individual situation we can’t go wrong. The world is a very diverse place and our approach to education needs to reflect that uniqueness.

teacher said...

The boy in this video is very critical. He takes a lot of liberties in quoting from Ruby Payne's book. If you take all of those snipits and put them together, it sounds racist and discriminatory. If you read the coments in the context in which they are written and look at the explanations that she gives for them and what she means by them, you get a completely different context. I think that Ruby Payne is very clear in her book that she does not think families in poverty are for the most part lazy, not intelligent or not hard working. She paints a picture that is quite the opposite actually. She seems to have a lot of respect for those in poverty and wants to share what she has learned so others will have a better understanding and not a feeling of pity for families in poverty.

Anonymous said...

My commenet to the fourteen year old boy is, come up with a better way of reachng diverse populations of students than Ruby Payne, then you can dis her!

Anonymous said...

One thing the boy in the video and other doubters may want to consider: Is there any part of Payne's book that made sense? Simply being disrespectful, condescending and disgusted is not going to help or shed light on any topic. By reading and listening to various authorities on the subject,then synthesizing the information to make it your own, would have more impact when trying to get a point across. Usually there is something to gain even from the person or source you trust the least.

Megan said...

After reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Payne I was left with mixed emotions. I was energized by Payne’s ability to describe several of my students and provide explanation for their behavior but I also felt angered by her stereotypical views of the classes much like the boy on the video. Payne’s book could be seen as a useful tool for educators because of its abundance of practical, easy to use strategies. It is something a teacher could read today and implement tomorrow. This is critical for teachers who are always striving for resources. However, as usable as Payne’s work is it fails to look at poverty through the larger lens. It sees poverty on an individual level and forgets that our society and culture play a large role in creating poverty. We may be able to provide assistance for the individual living in poverty but until society changes there will forever be people who are unable to meet the standards of the middle and upper class. I do not see the necessity of placing Payne and her critics at odds. Payne’s work addresses poverty on an individual level and her critics often discuss the need to address poverty on a societal level. I believe understanding both theories are critical in making the change to combat poverty.

megan said...

After reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Payne I was left with mixed emotions. I was energized by Payne’s ability to describe several of my students and provide explanation for their behavior but I also felt angered by her stereotypical views of the classes much like the boy on the video. Payne’s book could be seen as a useful tool for educators because of its abundance of practical, easy to use strategies. It is something a teacher could read today and implement tomorrow. This is critical for teachers who are always striving for resources. However, as usable as Payne’s work is it fails to look at poverty through the larger lens. It sees poverty on an individual level and forgets that our society and culture play a large role in creating poverty. We may be able to provide assistance for the individual living in poverty but until society changes there will forever be people who are unable to meet the standards of the middle and upper class. I do not see the necessity of placing Payne and her critics at odds. Payne’s work addresses poverty on an individual level and her critics often discuss the need to address poverty on a societal level. I believe understanding both theories are critical in making the change to combat poverty.

Sabrina said...


Mrs. Brink,
I could not agree more! Thank you for posting this. I too read the book with the mindset that what Payne was saying did not apply to every person or child from poverty. I felt her book did a great job of providing situations that I see every day at school and gave me ideas on how to approach those situations in a different way. Her chapter on discipline especially gave me a new set of eyes with which to view some of the problems that arise in my school and why they may be happening. I too feel I was able to benefit from her suggestions. These suggestions will provide me with a starting point for discussions I will be having with other staff in my building.

Sarah said...

While people have lived in poverty or been impacted through working with students or families living in poverty, it is essential to remember that each individual can have their own thoughts and opinions about the topic. Ruby Payne’s book helps to acknowledge that there are three different socioeconomic classes and the hidden rules amongst them. Everybody is different and I don’t feel that she was stereotyping or classifying groups of people, but more educating on challenges that people could face living in poverty. Having an understanding of how hidden rules can affect student’s education socially and academically, can help educators become a support system for each student and their families. Ruby Payne’s book helps educators and other professionals reflect on their thinking about the socioeconomic classes and if they are being supportive to all students. Her critics do have merit in challenging her research. Research should be challenged so that all areas can be looked at and individuals can make their own decisions on who they support. More importantly, the next step should be to determine how to make the necessary changes to make sure that all students are successful.

MB from MN said...

I think the real issue here is classism and that many of our schools operate in a manner that caters to the needs of the white middle class culture at the expense of those from oppressed populations and poverty. The reality is that there are significant disparities in the quality of education between students living in poor communities and students living in affluent communities, such as, poor students being more likely to attend schools that have less funding, lower teacher salaries, limited computer and internet access, fewer experienced teachers, dirty or inoperative bathrooms, more teacher vacancies and substitute teachers, more teacher not licensed in their subject areas, insufficient and outdated material, and inadequate or nonexistent learning facilities (The Myth of the “Culture of Poverty” Gorski, 2008, p. 35-36).
Although I feel that some of Payne’s critics have merit in their arguments against her approach, I still think that she has something valuable to offer. In particular, I feel that she identifies some good strategies for teachers and other school staff members, such as focusing on building relationships, using discipline to teach appropriate behaviors, and developing more wrap around support systems for students. I also think that she brings to light the important issue of being able to recognize how your own values and beliefs impact how you view others and the “common sense” that you expect others to have. Poverty is a very complex issue and it is a very serious social problem in our society. In order to really be effective in working with students and families living in poverty the approach must include strategies that are focused on the individual, the family, and the community as a whole. I do not believe that this can be accomplished by one person, but rather through the continuous collaborative efforts of all of us that want to create change.

Monica D said...

A number of years ago the school district I work in had Ruby Payne speak at an In Service. We all received one of her books "A Framework for Understanding Poverty". After hearing her speak and now again reading her book, I think Ruby Payne really has the goal of getting others (the middle class) to understand individuals that live in poverty. If we can get a better understanding, maybe we can help students in poverty to have success in school, that will hopefully carry over to their life beyond school. Ruby Payne writes from her experiences and this often has more meaning than reading the results of some study that has been done. I don't know that everything that Ruby Payne has written is the answer, but at least she has provided a resource for ideas that can be used within our classrooms. I agree with MB that poverty is a serious problem in our society and that in order to create change it will require the efforts of everyone, including all of us, Ruby Payne, and ALL of her critics. All the research in the world will not solve the problem of poverty, but if I can use one simple strategy that will make a difference for one of my students that is what is important to me. As for the video of the young boy, it is always easy to criticize someone, but more difficult to come up with a solution, which he didn't.

Lisa P. said...

I read Ruby Payne for a graduate class and was so intrigued by it. I had been working in an inner city school for 6 years and was constantly trying to make sense of the thinking and reasoning that my students displayed. After reading more about student from poverty it gave me insight on how to relate to my students. I gained a better understanding and appreciation of what they were bringint to the classroom and this helped me become more tolerable and to try different techniques for teaching and learning so that I could provide my students with an opportunity to feel successful, or maybe just "good" for a day.

Anonymous said...

After reading Ruby Payne's book, I must agree that it has gotten me to think. . . .really think about the poverty issue. It has made me become a better teacher. I see it every day in the classroom. I agree that Society and our local communities, as a whole, need to address the issue. We cannot blame individuals, or individual families. I also agree with her point that people need formal language register to be successful. All tests, books, job applications, etc are in formal register. Language is important and needs to be an important part of our teaching. I appreciate all of the classroom ideas she shared. Some will work and some won't for me personally. What I don't agree with is her idea that all people in poverty are the same. Every individual has different beliefs, dreams, plans, etc. They cannot be treated the same. Many come from different cultural backgrounds and traditions. That adds another twist into the poverty debate. Many are able to make improvements to their lives through furthering their education, encouraging their children to do well in school etc. People in poverty can make changes. Do they need to know the hidden rules of middle class, and the wealthy? It might help them, however I have seen many family success stories without the teaching of the hidden rules. Why? Where does their motivation come from?

Anonymous said...

I would also like to add that I agree with previous comments about our school systems teaching to the middle class and above. I am someone who believes you take and use the best from different approaches. I am able to take classroom strategies and implement them from both Payne and Jensen to support my students. Do I need to side with one or the other to help students be successful? Not really. Teaching is all based on the needs of each individual I am working with. They guide my instruction. Having two different positions and suggestions to use in my classroom is great!!

ccmom said...

Regarding the comments of the 14-year old boy, I can't help but agree that he brings 14 years of learning, life experiences, and (I may be going out on a limb here...)technologically-aided access to information to bear on his arguments. I was somewhat intrigued by his comment that he has been an agnostic for 9 years. When I was 5 (if I'm doing the math right), my greatest interest in church was whether or not I got to wear my Sunday shoes! My how times have changed! Clues gleaned from the background of his film and his command of language and social consciousness lead me to surmise that he might come from a middle to upper middle class background. I'd be interested to hear what he has to say 30 years down the road. I'm not criticizing him but if there's one thing age has given me, aside from a whole catalog of nasty things no one ever warned me about, it's the realization that things are rarely black and white. Not all people in poverty are having the same experience. There are different degrees of poverty and as many ways of dealing with it as there are families in poverty. In the Dark Ages of my youth, middle class children came to school with not much more preparation than children of poverty (my own observations here...no actual research...). We all kind of came in to a level playing field. In today's world, there is a huge, and ever-tilting slant to the field and children from poverty are all too often at the bottom. In this ever changing world, our children have access to information at the touch of a button that in the not-too-distant past, would have taken days to find out. The stuff of sci-fi kids shows from my childhod has come to pass! This is not to suggest that all people in poverty can never improve their situations or that they all feel a sense of hopelessness. It's true that Payne uses some generalizations, but stereotypes in themselves are not evil. What is wrong is when we bestow stereotypes on people without recognizing that there are exceptions and anomalies all over the place! Generalizations are a necessary tool to help us start identifying patterns and frequencies. Whether or not I agree with Payne, if her comments get me to start looking at my students through a broader lens, does it really matter if her research is exemplary or pure drivel? The bottom line is that we need to recognize that our local shantytowns and nearby ghettos have grown to gargantuan proportions and can no longer be swept under the communities' collective rugs. We need to do something, but what? To me, a logical place to start is the classroom. Knowledge is power and we need to make sure that those in power have the knowledge! We all need to be educated in how to be part of the solution. Love her or hate her, she has gotten me to think about aspects of my students' lives that I may not have considered before. If I can use Payne's book as a catalyst to reshape my own thinking and re-examine what I do in the classroom, then who's to say she's wrong? We no longer teach just content; we teach culture and morals and values. At the very least, she has made me realize that I have the power to effect real change in my students' lives if I am willing to continue to grown and learn more about their world.

Anonymous said...

The confused dad is just that, and has obviously never published a book, otherwise he might know royalties come after costs, so a $23 dollar book will most likely lend itself to $10 after costs and distribution less returns, etc. She's lucky if she makes a buck twenty five per book. Maybe confused dad should try creating once in a blue moon rather than tearing down out of confusion.

Anonymous said...

After reading Ruby Payne's book I have to say, as an educator, I better understand the hidden rules for survival in poverty as it relates to some of the students I work with and their functioning in school. It has made me assess and evaluate extra support students from poverty may need in order to have the equal playing ground to a quality education that other's take for granted.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to get Ruby Payne and many of her critics like Paul Gorski together and get down to the common points. We have a poverty situation in our country. What can we do about it? We can debate about linguistics or educational backgrounds, but the bottom line is what can we do to help?

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to have Ruby Payne and some of her critics like Paul Gorski get together and discuss poverty. They may even agree that we have a poverty problem in our country. The real question is what can we do about it? Is there really a reason to debate the linguistics or educational backgrounds? Let's get to the business of helping those people who really need it.

David said...

As a teacher, I am wise enough to know that not all students of fit one category or approach. Any education consultant knows that their suggestions do not work with every single student. What Payne offers are suggestions, and in 14 years of teaching, much of what she says holds true with my experiences. Our schools, for the most part, are a foreign culture to students in poverty. We have to help acclimate them to the culture for them to be most successful.

Anonymous said...

Cornelia said,
I enjoyed reading Ruby Payne's boo, A Framework For Understanding Children In Poverty, because she offer interesting research on helping teachers understand how to help children living in poverty. Ruby Payne' main approach was by seeing the world through the eyes of children who live in poverty. I do not believe there is no solution that will determine how to help teachers understand how to teach children living in poverty because of how they see the world.

David said...

Cornelia,
I agree that Payne helps us to consider others' viewpoints. This needs to be done on an individual basis. I think some people critique Payne because they believe she is promoting a one-size-fits-all-approach, but I don't think that is what she means.

Debbie said...

Debbie said...
I agree with Anonymous on 6-14-2013 "Lets get to the business of helping those people who really need it." Ruby Payne offers the reader the opportunity to understand the different classes and the hidden rules associated with each. By learning this, we are better able to understand our students' behaviors and then effectively address them. I feel Ruby Payne is helping teachers understand just how much poverty and education are related. Her suggestions and strategies can be most helpful in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

I have read Ruby Payne's A Framework for Understanding Poverty, and as a Special Education teacher in a rural community, I agreed with much of her ideas in her book, in fact she does hit it right-on. I work with many students and families in poverty and through my years of teaching and working with these families, I have come to understand some of the "hidden rules" and with that understanding, I am much more effective in my teaching. My students are very important to me and I set high expectations for them regardless of socioeconomic class, it is very individualized. Teachers need to become more individualized in their instruction, we are not all alike, and I think Payne is simply providing knowledge and information that can be used as a tool to effectively preapre all students for success and level the playing field, because the truth is that is not even....

teacher21 said...

After reading A Framework for Understanding Poverty, I did gain more of an understanding for those students living in poverty. Through my years of education I have only worked with a handful students at the poverty level. Ruby Payne's was insightful and beneficial. I will be using some of her suggestions in my classroom.

Karen said...

I agree with many of previous writers about Ruby Payne's book. She provides a framework for understanding poverty for people who have never known poverty. I also feel that her book does stereotype. Every situation and family is different. However, having worked in high poverty schools for over 20 years some of what she writes rings true. Especially about the importance of creating relationships. I have seen teachers truly make a difference in the life of a child by developing a caring relationship and providing the child with the encouragement needed to succeeed.

Shauna Rodriguez said...

I also have mixed views after reading Ruby Payne's book. While many of her concepts do hold some truth to them I was suprised by her quiz. The questions related to topics like: Could you survive in poverty? One of the questions asked was do you know how to bail someone out of jail? I work in an urban poor high school and I would be uncomfortable to ask that question to my students. The point I'm trying to make is not all poor people have inherent criminal ties or associations. I think that is more of a choice rather than a "culture of poverty". I do however agree with some of Payne's suggestions. For instance, keeping students with the same teacher for two years (if possible) is great. I also agree that many students who have made it out of poverty admit having a positive relationship with a teacher. I think it is important that we step up as mentors for our students.

Anonymous said...

Damian's teacher says...
The debate as to how teachers can best help students in poverty is quite interesting. Ruby Payne is well known and has made a name for herself in this field. Some scholars agree with her findings and others do not. Although there are those who disagree with Payne’s viewpoint, I personally learned a lot from reading her book. She presented interesting research that was thought provoking and insightful. I do not have enough background knowledge in this area, but I felt Payne’s book was a worthwhile read. It provided me with new information with regards to teaching students who are living in poverty. As I enter the classroom next year I feel better prepared to help the students in my school that struggle with poverty. Other writers and scholars may offer opposing points of view, but I enjoyed reading Payne’s book. Am I open to other ideas and theories? Absolutely! I do not consider Ruby Payne’s book to be the only source available on the topic on poverty. I think to develop a deep and broad understanding of the complexities involved with growing up in poverty, one should read a variety of books and articles. I feel there is useful information to be gained from reading many sources. I know that this course has helped me to think about my teaching in a different way when it comes to working with children living in poverty.

Anonymous said...

The debate as to how teachers can best help students in poverty is quite interesting. Ruby Payne is well known and has made a name for herself in this field. Some scholars agree with her findings and others do not. Although there are those such as Gorski who disagree with Payne’s viewpoint, I personally learned a lot from reading her book. She presented interesting research that was thought provoking and insightful. I do not have enough background knowledge in this area, but I felt Payne’s book was a worthwhile read. It provided me with new information with regards to teaching students who are living in poverty. As I enter the classroom next year I feel better prepared to help the students in my school that struggle with poverty. Other writers and scholars may offer opposing points of view, but I enjoyed reading Payne’s book. Am I open to other ideas and theories? Absolutely! I do not consider Ruby Payne’s book to be the only source available on the topic on poverty. I think to develop a deep and broad understanding of the complexities involved with growing up in poverty, one should read a variety of books and articles. I feel there is useful information to be gained from reading many sources. I know that this course has helped me to think about my teaching in a different way when it comes to working with children living in poverty.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The debate as to how teachers can best help students in poverty is quite interesting. Ruby Payne is well known and has made a name for herself in this field. Some scholars agree with her findings and others do not. Although there are those who disagree with Payne’s viewpoint, I personally learned a lot from reading her book. She presented interesting research that was thought provoking and insightful. I do not have enough background knowledge in this area, but I felt Payne’s book was a worthwhile read. It provided me with new information with regards to teaching students who are living in poverty. As I enter the classroom next year I feel better prepared to help the students in my school that struggle with poverty. Other writers and scholars may offer opposing points of view, but I enjoyed reading Payne’s book. Am I open to other ideas and theories? Absolutely! I do not consider Ruby Payne’s book to be the only source available on the topic on poverty. I think to develop a deep and broad understanding of the complexities involved with growing up in poverty, one should read a variety of books and articles. I feel there is useful information to be gained from reading many sources. I know that this course has helped me to think about my teaching in a different way when it comes to working with children living in poverty.

Anonymous said...

The debate as to how teachers can best help students in poverty is quite interesting. Ruby Payne is well known and has made a name for herself in this field. Some scholars agree with her findings and others do not. Although there are those who disagree with Payne’s viewpoint, I personally learned a lot from reading her book. She presented interesting research that was thought provoking and insightful. I do not have enough background knowledge in this area, but I felt Payne’s book was a worthwhile read. It provided me with new information with regards to teaching students who are living in poverty. As I enter the classroom next year I feel better prepared to help the students in my school that struggle with poverty. Other writers and scholars may offer opposing points of view, but I enjoyed reading Payne’s book. Am I open to other ideas and theories? Absolutely! I do not consider Ruby Payne’s book to be the only source available on the topic on poverty. I think to develop a deep and broad understanding of the complexities involved with growing up in poverty, one should read a variety of books and articles. I feel there is useful information to be gained from reading many sources. I know that this course has helped me to think about my teaching in a different way when it comes to working with children living in poverty.

Anonymous said...

Payne’s critics like Paul Gorski do have merit. Gorski, and many others, criticize with respect. Fortunately, I do not have to judge whether the criticisms of this 14 year old (or any other critic) are presented out of respect. Respectful criticism is healthy. It causes others to think, question, research, change, put forth effort, be humbled and care. When people respectfully criticize and/or debate, they create learning opportunities.
Several of Payne’s critics claim she is too anecdotal, a storyteller, generalizes, and lacks evidence. Some say she is using her own life experiences about only inner city poverty to explain our nation’s poverty. Some think she is stereotyping. Others accuse Payne of trying to change the way people think, behave and believe. Some have even claimed that her goal is to become rich off of the poor. Although I do not agree with these critics, I am thankful for their insights. They cause many to reflect and improve their personal approaches to relationships.
Any text can be taken out of context, from a cell phone text message to a Biblical scripture. I believe this is what is happening to a lot of Payne’s presentation. After reading several texts authored by Payne, I truly believe her intentions are genuine. Her goal is to make a difference for the better through healthy relationships. She is not trying to change others, but is helping people understand people. Her work will help me better understand and work with families living in poverty, middle class and wealth.

Anonymous said...

Reading Payne's book, A Framework For Understanding Children in Poverty, opened my eyes to the possible teaching strategies I had not realized. I was intrigued by the "hidden rules" that could be utilized to rethink my teaching methods. I found her perspective to be very helpful and eye-opening. There are many critics with their own points of view that do not agree with Payne's perspective. I found that Payne described in her book many of the same things I see in my own classroom. Regardless of which approach a teacher may use, creating a better learning environment for all students is the important aspect. Schools, teachers, and students all have different characteristics. As a teacher, I hope to be able to recognize my class situation and incorporate a variety of strategies to best help my students learn. Payne's book is definitely a valuable source. Hopefully, the ongoing debate has value in that it creates increased efforts to address the difficulties educators face in teaching all types of students.

snau said...

Reading Payne's book, A Framework For Understanding Children in Poverty, opened my eyes to possible teaching strategies that I had not realized. I was intrigued by the "hidden rules" that could be utilized to rethink my teaching methods. There are many critics that do not agree with Payne;s point of view. I found that Payne described in her book many of the same things I see in my classroom. regardless of which approach a teacher may use, creating a better learning environment foe all students is the important aspect. Schools, teachers, and students all have different characteristics. As a teacher, I hope to be able to recognize my class situation and incorporate a variety of strategies to best help my class learn. Payne's book is definitely a valuable resource. Hopefully, the ongoing debate has value in that it creates increased efforts to address the difficulties educators face in teaching all types of students.

Anonymous said...

I have currently been working in a low-income school for the past several years. I found that reading Payne's book helped me expand my thoughts about poverty and how schools can better accommodate and understand the tribulations that those living in poverty must face everyday. Payne obviously has many critics, which is expected with any work that is produced, however there are several useful concepts and teachings in this book that can help lessen the gaps in our society. All children deserve the best education and how can we provide this if we are not open to new ideas and useful tools for education?

Erich said...

After reading Payne's book, A Framework For Understanding Children in Poverty, I found myself reading and rereading the Hidden Rules. They seem so simple and just common sense, but i found my self saying "aha" on just about all of them. I am not going to sit on here and write about how I came from poverty, I don't think I did. All I know is that I never had what I have now. I worked hard to get where I am at, and now I am trying to become the best teacher I can be. I don't know if Payne is right or all the other critics are right. If I had to pick, I would say none of them. Nobody has the answers that will work for everyone. That being said, Payne's words described many of the same things I see in my own classroom. This tells me to look at my own teaching and school programs and see if her findings/ideas can work. For me it sparked many new ideas that I get to incorporate into my teaching and hopefully be more successful at reaching all my students. So looking at this debate in my eyes, take what will help your students, our goal is to help all students equally. Our job is to make sure we are doing it in a way that doesn't cater to one particular group or status. Nobody has the all the answers to create the best learning environment in everyone's classrooms.

Shanda said...

After reading Ruby Payne's book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty. I feel that Ruby Payne, like myself only seeks understanding. She acknowledges the uniques struggles and differences that she observes among the varying economic classes, and seeks to build bridges of success. She looks beyond the individual to the surrounding environment and promotes the building of resources and support systems. Her "hidden rules" provide insight and understanding so that we as educators may help to level the playing field and promote equal opportunity among the classes.

Michelle said...

Ruby Payne’s approach to poverty undoubtedly has earned her some critics along the way. These critics may have some valid points however I find the majority of their critiques to be useless to the people they are trying so desperately to defend. I am neither for nor against the concepts Payne addresses in her approach to poverty, but I do find that her overall ideologies are meant to shed light on a subject that most people try to sweep under the rug. I don’t believe that Payne is intentionally trying to stereotype socioeconomic classes. She is merely explaining that people of poverty have certain challenges that exist that may be overlooked to someone from another class. She tries to explain these challenges and discusses the hidden rules so that people can gain a better understanding of the differences and evoke necessary change. As an educator, I would never conclude that all my students are going to think the same way or fit the same mold. It is up to the teacher to take the best attributes from Payne and her critics and implement them into the classroom in the most ideal way. By using the best teaching practices, staying alert to the challenges my students must face, and reaching out to families in need, we can ensure that all of our students regardless of race, class, or gender will have the means to succeed.

Mark Eatherton said...

First and foremost Payne's book has perpetuated an awareness and focused debate on the topic of poverty. Her observations, coined anecdotal by critics, provide educators with an understanding of how life's experiences shape behavior. I am not offended by the idea of providing opportunities to teach skills/norms that will lead to increased success in educational or work settings. Payne is not advocating to change one's values but rather to offer alternative choices. We have all learned there is a time and place for casual speech, but in some settings more formal speech and norms must be followed. They are a means to an end, period. I do not have to change or lessen who I am. In fact, I can choose not to change at all. Stay true to myself and pursue what opportunities exist. For educators, Payne's work can give insight that in caring hands, can lead to better teacher/student relationships. It is not a "fix" for poverty nor a replacement for changing society's systems that often create unequal access. It is however, a tool that educators can use to help understand and reach all children.


Michelle Brownson said...

I have recently read "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" by Ruby Payne. In the course of my professional and educational career, I have heard many professionals cite information from this book as a resource. I never had the opportunity to read the book prior to this summer. I was hoping for more insight/tools to utilize as I work in a poverty community. After reading the book, I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed. I found the information to be helpful to new professionals who may not have a lot of experience in working with those in poverty. I also found it may be helpful to those who feel uncomfortable with social skills pertaing to indivduals with different life experiences. However, I found that the information would be helpful only if individuls see the information as what it is...the opinion of one individual. The information lacked valid research and study. The information seemed to be based on Ruby Payne's professional experience. I also was disappointed that the information seemed to lack real insight to a diverse population of indiviudals. The information seemed to really stereotype the popuation without giving information on all differnent dynamics. If I was poor, I would be insulted by her views. I would find many inconsistancies in the information. My husband did read some of the information. He grew up poor and his family did not fit many of the sterotypes in the reading. I think that by my personal and professional experiences, that the the cycle of poverty is based on the values that the parents hold. My husband has great saving and spending habits. He has kept this family going after I was laid off and we are on a one job income. My husband has great planning for the future and he was never incarcerated or did drugs. I think that those reading and learning from the book need to keep the origins in perspective.

Audrey Seiler said...

I typically am not a fan or supporter of generalizations, but I find Ruby Payne's text to offer information that, if taken as an individual's opinion, can provide ideas an tools to understand a way of life for some people. I am and always have been a member of the middle class, but I work as a speech clinician in a community with a high population of low income families, in a school with a high percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunches. I find the hidden rules to be a window into some of my families lives. There will always be differences among groups of people, no two individuals are the same. My main objection to Payne's A Framework for Understanding Poverty would be that it comes across as if all families living in poverty have the same hidden rules. Perhaps if it were clearly stated that this is an option, an idea, and one way of understanding some parts of life for impoverished people, her text would be better embraced.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with"Anonymous" from July 13th. Ruby Payne's work is definitive in that it helps people entrenched in the Middle Class to understand the Hidden Rules of Poverty. The rules are not meant to denigrate, they are simply to help understand ("Seek to understand, not simply to be understood") Also, they are a reference for someone in the Poverty Class who would seek to understand the Hidden Rules of the Middle Class. Ruby Payne's work will help me be more intuitive and insightful as I deal with my precious low SES students in my high school. A truly invaluable work!

Anonymous said...

After reading Payne's, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, I have a better understanding of the hidden rules of poverty. Many times teachers are of the middle class and feel that it is the mission to "make a difference to the life of a child that has a tough life." I believe it is more important to understand and support our students (all of them). I now have some tools that I can take into my classroom to help me meet the needs of my students. I look forward to taking some of Payne's ideas with me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who have mixed views about Ruby Paynes's approach to poverty. I do like Payne's additive model that focuses on assisting individuals using a community wide approach that brings people together to solve problems. To me, this goes along with Paul Gorski's position on poverty that our system is failing people in poverty with inequalities to access of basic rights and resources. Where Payne's approach falls apart for me is when she blames the person in poverty and makes it their responsibility or choice to change. This is her deficit model which I feel perpetuates stereotypes and learned helplessness. As an educator, I did appreciate being made more aware of the hidden rules between the classes, especially since our schools operate from middle class norms. I agree both teachers and students in poverty need to learn from each other's experiences and situations. I all comes down to forming and building relationships and having empathy for one another. I agree that many students who reach their hopes and dreams have had a significant and positive teacher in their lives. I think this is why many of us are teachers!!

Ricki Weickum said...

Teachers complain and complain about policies, curriculum, and laws that are put into place by people who have never stepped foot into a classroom. Ruby Payne has come up with this theory based on the years she spent observing her OWN classroom. While it may seem stereotypical and mean at times, it is life. I believe that while not every student, parent, etc fit into this mold Ruby Payne's book points out a lot that can educate and help me. I come from a middle class family and have almost finished my first year teaching in a high poverty school on a reservation. I was completely taken back at the things my students go through or the tragic things that happen here. It was even more strange that they are not as upset as I. It is just a way of life for them. I don't think that Ruby Payne is trying to stereotype anyone but sometimes the hard things have to be said so change can happen. This book has helped me as an educator be more aware of the "hidden" rules to build a relationship with these students and to understand more of where they come from.

Anonymous said...

Let's summarize the responses here.

I am a middle class person and this book speaks to me. Poor people have themselves to blame for their own situations and if they only learned to talk like me, they would succeed. This book changed how I view the poor - now I know their "hidden rules." Racism and structural poverty do not exist. Inequality is not a problem is this country. This book changed my life.

The end.

If only it were that simple.

Nick Brannigan said...

I have been teaching in a high poverty school for the last four years. It is sad to see what some of these families have to go through daily. I completely disagree with the last post that "poor people have themselves to blame...and if they only learned to talk like me, they would succeed." There were times in my life that we lived at or close to poverty. The way one talks and the uncontrollable situations that occur (death, unemployment, layoffs, medical, etc.) can all contribute to poverty. Why should one "blame" themselves? My family continued to "fight" and do what we had to to survive. Yes we knew which church was giving out food and even which stores through out food and dumpster dived. These events shaped and molded me. Language is not the solution, it is only part of the problem. I would not change a part of my childhood because it made me the man I am today.

It was a good exerciser to do the quiz for the hidden rules. It helped understand what some of the challenges are for the poor. When reflecting on my students and their families, it amazes me what they truly are capable of doing. Most have adapted to their environment and have learned how to survive.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the last post. I teach in a high school with many students living at or near poverty. After reading Payne's text, I found it to be eye-opening. She has spent her life studying families living in generational poverty, and she is trying to help educators, community members, etc. to understand these people. This book was eye-opening for me as well, especially after taking the three-part quiz about poverty, middle and upper classes. It allows the reader to really think about the hidden rules of poverty and what those families go through on a daily basis.
I completely disagree with the video of the 14 year old kid mocking Payne. He clearly lives in a home that can afford a computer and webcam, so what does he know about poverty? He should not put down someone's years of hard work when he does not have anything else to contribute.