By Eric Jensen
Chapter 1 Understanding the Nature of Poverty
Some of the first images that come to mind when I began reading the book were particular faces of students in our building. I am sure that some of you might have those same images as you begin to read the book. We all know the dynamics of some of our families. They range from the typical three-bedroom/two bath modern houses in neighborhoods with community pools down to one-bedroom/one bath trailers with no running water or electricity. However, do these students that come to mind actually live in “poverty”.
Eric Jensen describes poverty as a “chronic and debilitating condition that results from multiple adverse synergistic risk factors and affects the mind, body and soul”. If this is the definition, I do believe we have a significant number of students who fit this definition. He also categorizes poverty into six different types.
· Situational (sudden crisis or loss)
· Generational (two generations born into poverty)
· Absolute (scarcity of shelter, water and food…very rare in US)
· Relative (economic status )
· Urban (metropolitan areas over 50,000...crowding, violence and noise)
· Rural (nonmetropolitan area below 50,000)
The majority of the students who attend WS and meet the criteria of poverty status would fit the generational or relative definition. These individuals face emotional and social challenges, chronic stressors, cognitive lags and health and safety issues.
I have seen these families daily, visited their homes and talked to them in detail about their particular situation. However, I would NEVER pretend to fully understand their struggles on a daily basis. Some of their homes are unstructured, chaotic, unsafe but still the only home they know. So, how do we help these children from poverty that are already significantly behind both cognitively and emotionally? We must be aware of the risk factors affecting these students and take steps to build a safe and caring school environment for the students! Our mission is to educate all students, that begins by understanding their struggles and helping them grow emotionally as well as academically.
In Chapter 2, Eric Jensen discusses how poverty affects behavior and academic performance. Please make sure you check back on Monday with a Chapter 2 blog post from Felecia. Happy reading!