As most educators know, learning is a lifelong process. It involves exposing ourselves to new information and experiences that challenge our beliefs and our perceptions. It is amazing to watch when someone has that aha! moment and sees it from another point of view. Recently, while doing a Framework workshop, I had the participants work in groups and try to budget for a month based on minimum wage. Minimum wage within
Ontario is now more than $7.00 per hour. Still, as one group worked through this exercise, they realized that after the rent, utilities, and food were paid for, there was not much money left for other expenses that needed to be paid, let alone money to save. One of the educators, a woman with more than ten years of experience, expressed her frustration, saying, “If I couldn’t pay for the basics, I’d be so stressed; I’d just go get my nails done instead.” As we talked about her comment, she began to realize that if a parent from generational poverty “indulged” in such a thing, the educator would negatively judge that decision as “wasting” money that was needed for the basics.
So often our beliefs and experiences lead us to conclusions that may not be accurate. Other participant comments about the workshop reflect that point. For example: “It made me realize that I needed to change my approach in my classroom. It also made me realize that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions, because some of my students are seeing the world through a different pair of glasses than I am.” This teacher is now trying to see the world through the eyes of his students. How do you view the world?
Vickie Komar, M.S.W. of LaSalle, Ontario, Canada, is the Supervisor of Social Work and Attendance Counseling Services for the Greater Essex County District School Board. She is responsible for overseeing social work service delivery to over 70 elementary and secondary schools, where she consults with educators regarding the needs of students. Vickie is chair of the Violence Prevention Committee; the Chairperson of the Jeers and Tears: Violence Prevention Conference; and a certified trainer in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Vickie has presented the Framework for Understanding Poverty workshops since November 2001 and has been a consultant for Ruby Payne since 2003.