The Effects of Poverty on Teaching and Learning

Essay by richardvanraay June 2008

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Teachers need to understand how poverty can affect a student in the classroom. Some students who suffer from poverty may come from homes with very young, single or low educational level parents. Their parents may be unemployed, have substance abuse problems or generally may not be good role models. Students might live in dangerous neighbourhoods or suffer from homelessness. They might move areas often; their parents may have had bad experiences with schools themselves and see schools as threatening institutions and do not value education. Perhaps they come from households where the parents are family orientated and loving, their only problem being lack of money. Teachers need to understand the family background to understand how to best assist the student. Teachers must be aware of the problems and difficulties poorer students face and make allowances and adjustments to the curriculum to provide them with relevant learning without detracting from other students needs.

Pellino (2007) writes of the lack of confidence many children of poor families have and how many see the curriculum as irrelevant to their lives. She suggests modifying the curriculum in interesting, simple ways that will have value to all students in the class. This may include doing work on the effect of poverty, getting involved in community projects such as soup kitchens or simply studying the question "What is poverty?" It is important that these activities be followed with both group discussion and individual reflection to help children think critically about their experiences (Chafel, 1997). A good education is often the only means of breaking the cycle of poverty for poor children therefore a teacher must provide a curriculum that is relevant and challenging to motivate students and increase their opportunity for higher education and greater opportunity in life.

Many students from low socio-economic households feel they...