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A Framework for Understanding Poverty Paperback – October 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1929229147 ISBN-10: 1929229143 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Aha Process Inc; 3rd edition (October 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1929229143
  • ISBN-13: 978-1929229147
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Ruby Payne, speaker, author and CEO of aha! Process, a training/publishing company, has more than 30 years of experience in public education and staff development. Payne is best known for her work on "hidden rules of economic class" and their affect on learning. She says, "I never want to hear again, that poor children can't learn!"

Customer Reviews

I don't necessarily agree with these two books, but they both represent good examples of "research" and attempts of form a "framework".
Junlei Li
This book helps teachers understand the differing classes of students that will be coming into their classroom, especially those living in poverty.
Elizabeth Brewster
I supervise student teachers and will most definitely recommend that they read this book and make it a part of their professional library.
Keith Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

168 of 196 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
As an educator, I found Dr. Payne's book to be one of the most useful and practical books I've ever read. Just as the title reads, she offers a framework for understanding an issue that is influencing not only our schools but also our society. Her definition of poverty as related to the eight resources she describes rather than being solely defined by one's lack of finances is especially helpful for educators. In addition, Dr. Payne offers concrete strategies for working with some of our most misunderstood students. I found her explanation of the registers of language and issues surrounding them to be particularly useful in understanding some of the problems in schools today that are related to both cognition and behavior. I highly recommend this book for educators and believe also that anyone who works with individuals from poverty will also find it helpful. It makes so much sense!
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93 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Retired Educator on March 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dr. Payne has authored a book that is intended to provide a framework for teachers or others who work with poor children to help them better understand and deal with the issues their behaviors present in the classroom. A major caveat for potential purchasers, however, is that this book is remarkably free of content supported by peer-reviewed empirical findings. It is more like a fragmented collection of chapters supporting the contention that a poverty culture produces children unlikely to succeed in the classroom or later as adults. It seems to be in use as companion reading material for the author's widely-held seminars on the subject. It is also authored by her own publishing company, Aha! Process, Inc.

While the literature predating the War on Poverty was replete with studies suggesting causal factors such as those espoused by Payne, some of the more recent empirically-referenced literature such as Rebecca Blank's, "It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty," Princeton University Press/Russell Sage Foundation, 1997, takes a more balanced approach. That approach examines both the cultural as well as structural aspects of poverty and their impact on populations at risk, particularly damaging to women, children, and persons of color. Changing flawed character in the classroom is an uphill battle without understanding the structural factors that impact on adaptive behavior among the poor.

The egregious stereotyping of people in Chapter 3 pertaining to "Hidden Rules Among Classes" seems to stem from what the author characterizes as personal data-gathering over a twenty-four year period as a teacher employed in varying socio-economic school districts. Should generalizations based on an N of 1 truly be accepted as truth?
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87 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Ann ( on September 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
I teach in an inner-city school where poverty is prevalent in almost every family. Not until I read Ruby Payne's book did I have an understanding of the differences involved when one teaches a child who is living in poverty. The book gives specific case studies that make you think and relate to poverty-stricken people. It then goes even further and gives the teacher examples of how to use the new knowledge in the classroom. It is, without a doubt, the best book I have ever read on the subject of poverty and how it relates to school children. I learned more from the reading of this book about how to relate to the students I teach than I have from any other book I've ever read about any subject. I have no reservations whatsoever in recommending this book to any teacher who truly wants to understand the individuals she/he teaches.
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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Rucker on October 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
A Framework for Understanding Poverty provides a structure on which to build one's teaching. The way we teach is as important as what we teach, for , as Payne makes quite clear, we will not reach all children until we can understand--and accept--their backgrounds and any accompanying privileges or limitations children carry with them to the middle-class mindset of most American schools. As a high school English teacher, I found Chapter 2, "The Role of Language and Story", quite helpful--in fact, it has changed the way I approach writing in the classroom. Even if you have read bits of this information elsewhere, the author has gathered much relevant research in an easy-to-access format that any harried teacher can appreciate. For those teachers who balk at recognizing and/or accomodating behaviors related to class, I ask them to take the "Could you Survive in Poverty" quiz on page 53. I don't have any idea how to "get and use food stamps" or "how to get by without a car"--do you? I'd love to see a companion manual to this one that lists books for students that address class differences, either fiction or nonfiction.
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61 of 74 people found the following review helpful By on December 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Dr. Payne's book is essential reading for educators. Those who supervise people in the workplace who have roots in poverty would also benefit greatly from reading this book. It will affect the way in which you manage people. Dr. Payne makes all of us accutely aware of our own roots, our own middle class values and mindsets. A Framework for Understanding Poverty should become a part of every school's professional library. It will change the way in which you teach and discipline children from poverty. Our knowledge of children from poverty, and our skills in working with children from poverty must increase. Having worked as a teacher and administrator for 32 years, I have seen the impact of poverty on our schools firsthand. The growth rate for this segment of our population demands that we begin to look seriously at how we as educators interface with children from poverty. As members of a democratic society, we literally cannot afford not to attend to the issues related to poverty. Reading Dr. Payne's book will put you on the right path for your journey.
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More About the Author

Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. of Baytown, Texas has been a professional educator since 1972. She has been a secondary-school teacher and department chairperson, an elementary-school principal, a consultant, and a central-office administrator. The lessons learned during these years are the bedrock on which aha! Process, Inc. has been built.

Her first book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, is a powerful tool for educators to use when teaching children from poverty. She has led hundreds of workshops and has worked with several thousand teachers and administrators, both nationally and internationally. Ruby Payne founded aha! Process, Inc. (formerly RFT Publishing Co.) in 1996 and serves as its president. In that capacity, she continues to consult and write.