Closing the Poverty and Culture Gap – Tileston & Darling

closing the poverty and culture gap

As part of a project to research best practices in teaching high poverty students, I read Closing the Poverty and Culture Gap: Strategies to Reach Every Student by Donna Walker Tileston and Sandra K. Darling. This book focused a great deal on how to teach in general rather than how to teach students in poverty. Or perhaps they were just “best practices.” In any case, it wasn’t as specific as I would have liked.

There was an emphasis on culture having more of an impact on school and students’ lives than poverty, because culture encompasses students’ entire being – how they think and act. Therefore, it is important to teach students not according to the money they have or lack but what language(s) they speak, what their values are, and how their culture at home differs from the school culture. Furthermore, minority students on average, low socio-economic status or not, achieve consistently lower than white students, no matter their income level.

Because the book focused so much on culture over poverty (which I liked!), I felt there should have been discussion about the reasons for such racism and stereotypes that erect these barriers to success inside and outside of school.

I enjoyed the focus on teaching students to be resilient, although putting that into practice is, of course, tricky. The authors emphasize making students feel safe and welcome, setting big goals, having high expectations, and helping students through their mistakes and struggles.

Specifics from this book will be included in my research paper which you can find here.


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