Poverty Is Not The Problem With Education
Will Minton
71

Will, you make some superb points that made me think once again about my own experiences as a teacher for 25 years. I will tell you that my experience going from elite private schools in the suburbs to an urban charter school was a complete train wreck. I quit the charter school job after a month. To make a long story short, I was hired at the charter school (8th grade) to “bring creative and rigorous private education to students from diverse backgrounds.” However, it quickly became quite obvious to me that: 1) the students did not want to work through anything that was in any way difficult (you might say that they were trained to get right answers, not embrace complexity), 2) classroom management took up 70% of my time (I tried to run an “open” and independent’ learner-styles classroom, which students really struggled with- they could not manage themselves without authoritarian controls in place), and 3) very, very few of the students were genuinely interested in grappling with ideas and learning about the world. My hunch here is that interest in the world, in ideas, in current events etc. was not modeled at home, so when we raised issues in class, nobody wanted to engage. In the end, I think you are right about teaching styles and school culture, but I don’t think you can say that home (thus poverty) does not play a role. Generally speaking, I found the following to be true: the handful of kids at the charter school who were going to make it to college and go on to successful lives came from two parent families (or at least a home life with one highly attentive, caring adult around) that TRULY placed education/learning at the top of the priorities list(homework done, reading at home, limited TV, books around, dinner conversations about the news, etc.) Thanks for listening.

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