Saturday, July 10, 2010

You can be a resource...

I was re-reading some work by Ruby Payne this week.  Dr. Payne is a nationally recognized expert on children and adults who live in poverty.  She discusses the resources that all children need to be successful.  She defines poverty as the "extent to which an individual does without resources."  According to Dr. Payne those resource areas are:
  1. Financial - having the money to purchase goods and services
  2. Emotional - being able to choose and control emotional responses
  3. Mental - having the mental abilities and skills to deal with daily life
  4. Physical - having physical health and mobility
  5. Support Systems - having friends and family support to access in times of need
  6. Role Models - Having frequent access to appropriate adults who are nurturing and
    who do not engage in self-destructive behavior.
  7. Knowledge of Hidden Rules - knowing the unspoken cues and habits of a group
Dr. Payne's definition of poverty is certainly much different than that used by the U.S. Government.  According to Payne, even those with plenty of financial resources can be poor and those who lack adequate monetary wealth can make up for that with resources in other areas.  The problem becomes that too often certain children lack in many or all of these areas.  This cumulative effect creates true poverty of resources and can have a serious negative impact on that child's chances of success.  If you are reading this, chances are you are a stakeholder in the education of one or more Okoboji School District children.  Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a student yourself; take a moment to analyze the resource levels of the children in your life.  Are there areas of surplus?  Are their areas of poverty?  Then ask yourself an even more important question - "What can I do about it?"  Maybe you cannot purchase the new laptop the student needs to complete their coursework (although with Okoboji's commitment to our 1:1 program universal computer access will be assured to all middle and high school students soon), but maybe you can supply resources in one of the other areas.  Much of the resources a student needs in terms of support systems and role models don't cost anything but time. 

We all must do our part to ensure that all students, regardless of financial status, have all of the resources they need for success. 

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the work of Dr. Ruby Payne, you can get an overview of her poverty framework here and a link to her book "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" here.

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