Our society, and really most societies, operate with certain unwritten but clearly understood class rules. Most people, however, and especially children, do not realize or understand the rules of classes they do not belong to.
Ruby Payne reminds us that many assumptions about individual’s intelligence and approaches to school or work may relate more to their understanding of hidden rules.
Students need to be taught the hidden rules of the middle class, not in denigration of their own cultural rules, but as another set of rules that can be used when needed to be successful in different settings.
Many of the attitudes, and resulting behaviors, that students and parents bring with them are an integral part of their culture and belief systems. Middle class solutions should not be imposed on them if other more workable solutions might be found in their culture.
An understanding of the culture and values of poverty will lessen the anger and frustration that many educators may feel with dealing with these students and parents.
Most of the students in poverty do not believe they are poor, believing there are more people worse off than they are. Most of the wealthy adults do not believe they are wealthy, usually citing someone who has more than they do. Many middle class parents believe they have to constantly struggle to stay in the middle class.