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Teachers! Get class consciousness - at the Library

June 11, 2007

So if this June 11th article in the NYTimes on Ruby Payne is for real, it seems that LOTS of teachers are groping for a sense of how to constructively engage children from different class backgrounds than their own. To know why a self-schooled teacher-turned author has met with such a warm reception from the educational establishment by - you'll have to read the full article. But if you're looking for similar material in our collection while you're waiting for her book to arrive in our collection, read on!

I agree with the article's general contention that Payne's popularity has something to do with her use of the otherwise taboo concept of socioeconomic class as an analytic tool (taboo because we're one big happy meritocracy - right?) Add to that the fact that No Child Left Behind requires test score improvements among economically disadvantaged students - who for the first time stand out as a group when reported as 'qualify for school lunch.'

But, without having read her books, I'm willing to guess that the magic of her success also has something to do with the format of her message - vignettes or anecdotes that illustrate a brief, practical framework. Teachers are such practical people - they appreciate good tools. They also don't have lots of time to moonlight as sociologists - they're busy teaching! In addition - part of their job requires they have empathy toward their students. So what better way to reach a large audience of big-hearted, practically-minded people than through sharing personal stories? The fact that the stories form a framework that helps teachers perform their core function - getting students attached to the broader society - it's no wonder that her books are so successful! If only more academicians could find such a popular vehicle for their analysis of class issues in America! [End of todays' rant.]

So if you happen to be looking for similar teaching anecdotes in the Drexel collection, (we just ordered Payne's book for our collection) her are a few searches I can suggest:

teach* and anecdote* - just the newer results

plus - less precise but turns up a few gems amongst the false hits -

teach* and personal* and experience*