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Understanding Poverty in Orlando Area High Schools (Part 2)

Teachers in Osceola County, Florida schools were encouraged to complete an “Understanding Poverty” book and seminar. The central theme is that teachers need to understand where their students come from, accommodate them where they are at, and design the curriculum and assessment in such a way as to increase performance. Many traditional teaching techniques are self-defeating when we are dealing with students who are in poverty. The impoverished have a needs hierarchy that values basic necessities and immediate outcomes. Yet a teacher from the middle class tends to be more forward looking and seeks to impose the same standards and worldview on his students. This causes problems in connecting with students who will become increasingly frustrated and see the school curriculum as irrelevant and even oppressive to their need for social interaction and immediate gratification.

It is an oversimplification to say that kids can’t learn is because they are poor. But on the simplest level, this is the thesis of the seminar. It is reinforced by appealing to sociological theory. And I do not doubt that there are many good points of truth here. The problem with this idea is two things. First, students in poverty can learn to be forward looking. Second, the American standard for what is “poverty level” is not poverty at all compared to most of the world throughout history.

The writer of Understanding Poverty points out that poverty has just as much to do with income as an ability to allocate intangible resources, such as relationships, time, talents, etc. I wholeheartedly agree that poverty is as much of a spirit as it is a financial reality. I do not agree that teachers ought to accommodate a spirit of poverty. Every student can learn and make the most of their time. The fact that they often do not should not be reinforced with our accommodations. While it may look like we are doing them a service, we are actually training them to think that adult life is a time with few responsibilities that have hard consequences.

What we ought to be teaching students is that even if they do not have the opportunity to master the reading, writing, math and science curricula, they need to work in class, complete assignments on time and come to each class on time each day ready to work. “Eighty percent of success is showing up” does not mean they will automatically become 4.0 students and qualify for scholarships at the college of their choice. But it does mean that they will be trained with the necessary skills to either hold a steady job or succeed in some type of higher education. In today’s fallen culture, it will mean they will be in positions of leadership somewhere.

In a few years, the reality will become more apparent to many of these students. If car payments are not made bad credit and possible repossession will occur. If they do not show up for work on time, they will not keep their jobs for long and will not advance in their position and salary. If utility bills are not paid, they will have the added stress of the possibility of losing their water, heat and lights until they can make a payment.

For several months of my life, I have had opportunities to work closely with high school and college students in Ukraine, Russia, Venezuela and Peru. These were countries that had fallen at one time into a slavish oppressive society. One of the greatest problems to overcome in former communist nations is not an oppressive government, but rather a socialistic mentality of the people that expects the government to do everything. Dependence can lead to a slave mentality. The irony of this is that even in these countries, educational standards are much higher than in the United States. The United States of America is the most affluent nation in the world. We have many social programs in place that purport to provide assistance, food, education and housing to our poor. The average welfare recipient in our country has more material wealth than the middle class in many other nations. Our “poor” are materially rich. Many have cars, multi-room apartments, computers, disposable income for entertainment and food. Our “poor” are poor mainly in spirit rather than in material goods.

Bluntly put, our current system rewards the poor for a lack of initiative and industry. This indoctrination begins in school with a free education, thousands of dollars of free tuition per year and many more in resources that are wasted by educators who believe that if we only had more money, we could attract better teachers. More resources will supposedly solve the problem. The sad truth is that more money is being spent on public education than ever before. American teachers, although still underpaid, still make more than in any other nation at any time in the history of the world.

We could point to the breakdown of the family unit, but other nations that have the same divorce rate as America and a lower economic prosperity do better with their schools. The reason for educational decline among the lower income is not poverty. In my years as a teacher among lower income students, I have come across many theories on how achievement can be raised. These are the same theories I heard in the 1980s when I was an education major in college. After several years of some thought, I have reached a conclusion.

In the words of Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

Having raised 4 children and have two others still at home for a total of 6 in the educational system, this is a subject near and dear to my heart.
I came accross your blog after a search on Postmillenialism led me to http://www.forerunner.com/eschatology/X0001_1._Postmil.html
What a fresh drink of water that was. I'll be a regular guest of your blog from now on.
I sure wish there were more churches that believed this in my area, that also were at least somewhat appealing in the area of music and arts (my gifts.)
The ones I have checked into are stuck in the 19th century.

Posted by Mr Bob on 08/01/2014 08:23 PM #

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

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