Paul Tough’s article “The Class-Consciousness Raiser” in the June 10, 2007 issue of The New York Times Magazine has drawn a lot of attention to aha! Process and the work that we do to transform class-consciousness in America and worldwide. I’d like to take an opportunity to share some of what I feel are the high points of the dialogue, examples in which people are thinking deeply and carefully about the issues at hand.

Suzanne Morse touches briefly on the merits of Ruby Payne’s work and The New York Times Magazine’s coverage thereof. She also points out that the work has a few detractors but is not herself swayed, saying Ruby’s work does a lot to give teachers new vocabulary with which to discuss poverty.

Matt Johnston writes in his blog Going to the Mat about the practical application of aha! concepts versus academia’s uneasiness with the theoretical implications. It is quite interesting to read someone who has never before encountered Ruby’s work sort through the two sides of the debate.

Sally Greene, a professor in the University of North Carolina Law School, writes in her blog GreeneSpace about the theory versus practice debate as well. She mentions a formerly homeless educator she wrote about elsewhere in her blog for whom aha!’s work and message were very important.

The discussion continues on the blog Re:Maines: Postcards from the Religious Left, where the author writes about a conversation involving the Times Magazine article she had with her husband over dinner. She says, “Perhaps some discomfort with Payne’s approach also stems from the fact that as a nation we like to think the lines of class are nonexistent, or at least blurred. Defining class with such specificity denies that.”

Joanne Jacobs’ blog features “free linking and thinking on education,” and her piece about Ruby Payne has drawn 15 responses (at the time of this writing) since June 10, when it was posted.

Nancy Flanagan, a 30-year teaching veteran from

Hartland,Michigan had this to say: “I regularly read—and admire—lots of leftish education blogs, magazines, and research articles. It’s kind of my natural sociopolitical home, although I sometimes find the lack of theory-into-practice stunning. It’s one thing to be dead right about social inequities and injustice in schools, but quite another to propose workable strategies to begin dealing with those gaps, words and ideas that can be used tomorrow in an actual classroom.”

Be a part of the discussion with us. We welcome your thoughts on the subject. 

Donna S. Magee, Ed.D. Vice-President, Research & Development