This is the last in a series of posts on poverty.
In part one we looked at the differences between generational and situational poverty, and made the connection that at any given time, any one of us could end up in the position of situational poverty. Then, in part two we looked at resources and defined what resources are in regards to poverty, and that one of the causes of poverty is a lack of resources or an inability to access them. Part three focussed on the language and hidden rules of poverty, middle class and the wealthy, and that if we understand the language of each then that gave people an opportunity to navigate a way out of poverty.
This final post is the 'so what'. It is all very well and good to have a series of writings that tell us things, some we already probably know, but these are of no use if there are no practical applications that we can use with our communities.
What can we do about it?
Now that we understand more about poverty, its drivers, causes and the language, we can start to look at some ways to assist our communities.
1. Relationships are everythingWork to build relationships with your community and students that are based on mutual respect. Work with students and families, and alongside them. Talk to them and ask them what they want. Collaborate with your community - solutions designed together are far more powerful than solutions only one thinks of. This builds trust.
2. The hidden rulesTeach your students the hidden rules mentioned in post 3 and teach the how to use the to get the best our of school. Schools and agencies operate from the rules of the middle class - if students know these they are better able to navigate through them.
3. ResourcesAnalyse the resources within your community and those that are your families and students. Make your programmes and interventions based upon this knowledge. Don't guess what people need, find out.
4. LanguageTeach your students the formal register of language - help the build their vocabulary and understand that it is not appropriate to speak in some settings the way they might in others. All of these things strengthen your students choices and opportunities.
5. Abstract ThinkingThis may seem strange, but support the transition to abstract thinking for your students. Help them understand that how they think, the way they think, the positivity they focus on and how things like meditation and mental models can help them be successful. When you are fighting each day in survival mode, it can be hard to see things that are not concrete. Teach them to see a brighter future.
6. QuestionTeach your students to question the world they live in, to want to learn more, dream and realise those dreams.
I promise this is the last post on poverty for the foreseeable future. I am getting tired of writing them and you must be getting sick of reading them!! Hopefully however, you have discovered a different lens from which to few poverty and this in turn, will help you with the most vulnerable in your classes and schools.
Remember, the economic class in which you are raised in impacts on the resources you can access and have available to you, and resources are a way out of poverty. Being in poverty is not the fault of the individual and relationships are the pre requisite to learning and making changes.
Knowing all this, what changes will you make?