On Wed, 21 Jan 1998, Dan wrote:

> Hello Dennis,
> In general, poverty makes survival more difficult, and anything that makes
> survival more difficult is an obstacle to learning and success.
> I think the question these observations lead to is "Who and/or what is
> responsible for the obstacle's presence and who is responsible for its
> removal?  Or, an even better question, "What would be possible for the
> individual and society if poverty were minimized or removed as an obstacle
> to learning and success in life."
        Functionalist Sociologists would say that poverty performs a valuable
function in society:  it gives the rich something to spend their money on
and it offers a pool of people to do the menial, dirty jobs no one really
wants to do.  I figure this is also an apologist perspective which allows
people to ignore the reality of their society.

        The nut of the problem we face as educators is societal, familial
and individual.  "Solving" one aspect ignores the rest.  Life is not
"cubby holed."  Integreation of experience and perception is essential to
cognitive development.  But we also have to ensure that we teach what we
expect -- critical thinking, problem solving, etc are skills that can be
introduced and developed in the classroom as well as at home.

        But to label a perspective that poverty has an impact on potential
success "leftist" is to follow the road that will allow the root problem
-- poverty -- to continue.  And if we ignore that problem, it will
eventually rise up to bite us on the posterior.  The move of big
corporations to the "developing" countries of the world is based on taking
advantage of the impoverishment found there.  It is so much more
profitable to pay fifty cents a day than a real living wage.  But that
adds to the reduction of assets here and increases the potential for the
continuation or diminution of the status quo.

        I've seen a few folks talk about "accountability."  That is
something I would like to see.  Maybe then we could begin to solve the

Jim Valkenburg    [log in to unmask]
Delta College
University Center, MI 48710-0002
(517) 686-9034  FAX (517) 686-8736