In his book “Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: strategies for erasing the opportunity gap”, Gorski highlights the common stereotypes and misconceptions about the relationship between poor families and Education. These stereotypes are not new but they just won’t go away! Many teachers still regard low-SES students in some of these ways: they do not value Education, they are lazy, they (or their parents) are substance abusers, they are poor communicators and poor parents are ineffective.
These are not new stereotypes but they are important to continually recognise and question by teachers. Too often, I have personally witnessed teachers labeling low-SES students as “lazy”, “slow” and “not interested in Education”. These sweeping generalisations are heard throughout a teaching staff room and often are mutually agreed upon by other teachers allowing these types of generalisations to be unquestioned. I have been told numerous times by teachers: “you care too much” and “why bother!”. I tell all my students to question everything. I believe teachers MUST question everything too! I understand that not every teacher has a social reform perspective on Education (I obviously do); however, at a very minimum I believe teachers should not be judging their students in terms of their social & economic capital. Rather, I believe a teacher’s role is to encourage learning, promote critical thinking and get to know students well to help form authentic links to student’s lives & their learning. We need transformational leadership and quality teachers that all actively support a high expectations school culture.