The Pedagogy of Poverty – or rather the poverty we are instilling in society…

This morning I came across this brilliant article [ The Pedagogy of Poverty versus Good Teaching by Martin Haberman] on the ways of teaching and it made me think.

If I were to be facing a group of teachers, who happen to be teaching at a school and I had to give a talk during one of their professional development days, what would I tell them? And if those very teachers have been thrown into a system which has been ravaged and subjected to all forms of stress, what would I tell them?

Would I point out that the majority of them are teaching in the wrong way? Would I tell them about this ‘pedagogy of poverty’ which most of them are using? Probably not. Probably they would see me as another academic who lives in space, lost contact with reality – and this it the way they can survive inside a classroom.

The reality is different – albeit nonetheless virtual if you want. The reality is that things can be done differently. I keep looking at success stories published through social media, such as Twitter. I keep learning how people manage; how they cope. I keep learning and visiting new technologies, stuff which is constantly being updated.

The gist of the article which I read, is that the majority of teachers, are still teaching the way they used to be taught. They have forgotten how terrible it was for them. They don’t seem to know any better. They go through University thinking that research is useless. To their mind, it’s for people who are paid to do research. They think, no – wait they believe that once out, their learning stops. It has to stop. It’s a paid job and you’re paid to teach. But they fail. They blame University (and maybe we do fail in some ways); they blame the system, they blame the families, they blame the poverty of mind (which they equate with lack of intellectual ability), they blame who sits in front of them, they blame the curriculum, exams, syllabus… but I wonder how many of them blame themselves? How many of us blame ourselves?

We think we know it all – let’s look around us at society. So many people around us think they know it all. And it’s all because of us teachers who keep maintaining this control attitude over their classroom.

So, to get back to my original question, what would I say to the ‘hypothetical’ teachers in front of me? NOTHING… a big fat nothing… I would do as I preach, and let them find out the beauty of knowing beyond a small mind, captivating that which is out there – go and experiment – see the world for yourselves. It’s not just books and curriculum out there. See the ways for yourselves. Get a glimpse of how possible it is to know more and do more. Adapt…that is the secret if you want to overcome poverty – in all senses…

As Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”.


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