"Steve Inskeep's NPR interview with Pulitizer Prize winning author Katherine Boo identifies a key for educators in battling intense poverty (and for policymakers seeking to improve school systems) . Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers tackles the "gradations and nuances" of extreme poverty. Since she was describing poverty in Mumbai, which is on a different order of magnitude than the poverty in my world, I was surprised when Boo mentioned her relationships with families in the projects of Oklahoma City. Boo's final words, however, made the essential point that we must respect the "real intelligence and real moral judgments" of poor people. The lesson for educators who want to help students get out of "the undercity," and into the "infrastructure of opportunity," is that we must be like Boo and listen to poor children. We must build on their strengths and not just be preoccupied by their deficits."
This is a guest post from John Thompson (@drjohnthompson), a longtime Oklahoma City high school teacher and adoptive parent who's writing a book about his experiences. He is a regular contributor at This Week In Education.
Corrected: Spelling of Inskeep.