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ERIC Number: EJ860632
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Nov
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 32
ISSN: ISSN-0360-9170
Children Writing "Hard Times": Lived Experiences of Poverty and the Class-Privileged Assumptions of a Mandated Curriculum
Dutro, Elizabeth
Language Arts, v87 n2 p89-98 Nov 2009
Dutro discusses an analysis of the disconnect between the material realities of the lives of a group of third-grade children living in poverty and the middle-class assumptions of a district-mandated unit within a literacy curriculum. The analysis arose in the context of an ethnographic study of identity and classroom literacy practices; it was provoked by the children's responses to a writing prompt included in the curriculum that invited, but in no way anticipated or supported, personal stories of urban poverty. The curriculum portrayed economic struggle as a temporary condition, even as the children's stories related life within systemic, multigenerational poverty; economic struggle was addressed only in historical or natural disaster contexts rather than as contemporary, lived experience. In addition, the curriculum's failure to acknowledge the children's lives was exacerbated by its scripted nature and a high-accountability policy context. The disconnect between children's lives and the assumptions of the curriculum has implications for policy and practice, including 1) the risk that mandated, scripted curricula will fail to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable students, and 2) the urgent need to centrally address the issue of social class in curriculum development and in teacher inquiries focused on literacy curricula and children's responses to the texts they are required to engage in school. (Contains 1 table.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 3
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A