Different Point of View

What She Wore: black and white print dress; black cardigan with white trim; black high heels; and let’s not forget–support hose!  These days, it’s a girl’s best friend. 

I’ve mentioned that most of the kids I work with are from low-income homes.  About 85% of the students at my school qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.  Because of this, sometime their "rules" for behavior are completely different that mine. 

A big one is about stealing.  Most of my kids think that if you leave something out, then it deserves to be taken.  You have to combat that by making rules such as "don’t touch my desk" or "don’t take my things without asking."  Otherwise, they’ll just take whatever–you have to create safe zones because my kids don’t believe that taking something that doesn’t belong to you is wrong–you’re just a sucker for leaving it out.

Today I saw a perfect example of this.  One of my students was walking through class and he found a dollar on the ground.  He picked it up, took out his wallet, and began putting the dollar in his wallet.  The rest of the kids started saying, "that’s Mandy’s dollar."  The other teacher had to intervene and MAKE him give the girl her dollar back.  She told him that was stealing.  He was visibly upset by this, so I pulled him in the hall to talk to him.

Did your mother give you the dollar?


Did you earn the dollar?


Then taking it is stealing–it belongs to someone else.

He still doesn’t get it.



I want to be clear on this post: I IN NO WAY intended to imply that my kids are taught that stealing is acceptable.  They all know stealing is wrong.  The problem is what constitutes as stealing.  Does taking something that someone left out count as stealing?  For me, yes.  For most of my kids no.  They all know not to take stuff out of your purse, or to shoplift, and I feel my personal possesions are safe.  It’s the gray areas where we differ. 


About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
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21 Responses to Different Point of View

  1. Jaysey says:

    Wow…what a different world.  We are a product of our experiences.  And if experience teaches you that finders are keepers and losers are weepers, then that\’s what you believe.  Also, many young people today feel entitled…they really believe that, for example, that dollar was put there because it was meant for them…so naturally, it\’s theirs. 
    I\’m a BIG fan of American lit. too…particularly Southern American Fiction.  But my students need a broader perspective.  Since teaching that class, I\’ve read a lot more non-American authors.  Next on m list is The Kite Runner…that and An Obedient Father.  My students really like The Kite Runner (Afhanistan) and An Obedient Father was on sale at Barnes & Noble online and G.\’s mom gave me a gift certificate for Christmas. 😉  And an oldie but goodie is The Stranger by Albert Camus.  Laura Esquivel (Like Water for Chocolate) is good and very popular with the female students.  I know you didn\’t ask…but I know you like to read, so I figured I\’d throw it out there. 😉

  2. ncjenn2nd says:

    Wow, that is a perfect example of how our lives and belief systems are completely different than that of our students.  I have one student who is very low in reading and slightly lower than average in math because he can\’t read the directions.  Basically, he will not try unless you make him.  He is lazy.  When you ask him to read, he will tell you, "I don\’t read."  But he does.  Sadly, I met his mother, who is living here in the US, but refuses to learn English, and will not find someone to tutor her son so he can do his homework (or at least read at home) and her attitude totally conveys the \’you owe me\’ mentality.  That is such a huge hurdle.  I give you lots of credit for working with the age group you do and being able to help them to learn how to be successful in our society.

  3. Becca says:

    We see a lot of that same attitude here. Kids think that they can take whatever they want and the parents act the same way, so why wouldn\’t they. What a way to raise a child.How very sad.

  4. Betty says:

    Hi KM,
    I know what it means to miss New Orleans!  Anyone who grew up in New Orleans knows that it is the center of the universe and that, despite her flaws, New Orleans is the best spot on earth.  I raised my children there and they feel the same.  My grandchildren, however, do not know what they are missing and a part of me weeps for that.  I leave for N.O. on March 7th to ride in the Metairie St Patrick\’s Day Parade.  My son will meet me there and my sister, brother in law and a couple of cousins will ride the same float.  I just doesn\’t get any better than that.

  5. daphne says:

    On top of everything else that is teaching – having to teach them morals… I don\’t envy you!
    love, Daphne

  6. CJ says:

    It\’s truly sad that the moral foundation isn\’t being established at home from birth onward.  Being poor doesn\’t mean a person necessarily is ignorant.  And I remember a time when teaching values wasn\’t so much the teacher\’s responsibility as it was the parents.  I\’m not terribly impressed with the direction society has taken. 

  7. Unknown says:

    A few years ago I lived in a nice little part of the city, but not more than four blocks away was a housing project.  My neighbors home was unoccupied for a few months and I began to have problems with the kids from the housing project walking through his yard then it became walking into my yard, jumping fences just to save a few extra steps around the block.  I finally began to say something to these kids.  The language that was used back at me was shocking, a real eye opener.  These kids felt it is was their "right" to walk where ever they wanted to.  They had no idea of respecting someone else\’s property and were offended if you told them no.
    Sadly I could not be angry with these children as they were only doing what their parents have taught and shown them.  **sighs**
    Thank you for teacher\’s like you out there who keep trying to make a difference in our society.

  8. Gina says:

    Guess he was thinking along the lines of finders keepers, losers weepers.  Kinda sad that he couldn\’t get what you were trying to tell him.

  9. Tracy says:

    Stuff like that always amazes me — reminds me that what is common sense to me – isnt necessarily to someone else!!  It\’s amazing that the kid would not only do that – but not understand when you tried to explain to him that it was wrong!!
    Hope you are feeling well!!!

  10. Carol says:

    What a different idea about property.  I was raised with the idea that what\’s mine is mine and what\’s yours is yours.  We can trade or exchange, but we don\’t get something for nothing.  And if I were to get something for nothing there had to be a catch to it.  I guess these kids don\’t learn about the catch.  Maybe that\’s why some people steal, or play the lottery, or have giant credit card bills, or take out those ridiculously high interest payday loans.  But of course the lottery, super-easy credit, and payday loans are the rich stealing from the poor….that\’s OK, right?

  11. Aimee says:

    wow that is crazy…some people need to teach their kids…
    :o) smiles are contagious…so pass one to people that you love and those you don\’t…and soon everyone will be smiling… :o)

  12. Sheryl-Ann says:

    I agree with Jeannie completely.  Being poor does not mean that you don\’t teach your kids basic values.  In fact, it costs nothing to teach your kids these values, and it will take them a very long way.  I think their behavior has nothing to do with them being poor; however, it has more to do with parents who just do not take the time out to teach their kids right from wrong, and what is acceptable and what is not.  The moral fabric of our society is being unraveled and I am not sure whether poverty is to blame.  Hope that students gets what you were telling him.

  13. barnyardmama says:

    I hate to disagree here–or maybe I don\’t–but I do think that these parents are teaching their children–they\’re just teaching them a different set of values then the ones taught in my home.  I, by no means, want to imply that everyone with a small income has a different value set than me–but many do.  This is outlined in detail in the book A Framework for Understanding Poverty which I recommend for anyone who works in low-income schools.
    And as far as something for nothing goes–there\’s a huge chunk of society that is receiving something for nothing–it\’s called government assistance.  And I\’m not neccessarily against that–I just wanted to point out that it happens all the time.

  14. g says:

    I\’ve been through the same thing.  Isn\’t it crazy how they think that they can just keep what they find?  Arrgghhh!

  15. Nadine says:

     That is too bad….maybe some day he will, before he winds up in big trouble.
     The Victoria\’s Secret shoe sale flyer came in the mail yesterday!!!!!
     WEEEEEEEE!!!!!! And those flannel jammies are on sale for under $15!!!
     Get out your VS Credit card!!!!!

  16. Stacy says:

    That is sad, but I am not so sure it would just happen in the low income situation.  I think it also has a lot to do with society today and the "please me first" attitude.  I would hope that my children would react different in this type of situation.  Thanks for bringing up the topic as I might go home tonight and play out this scenario with my older two.

  17. Tracy says:

    Hey – at least you have an excuse to be craving things!!  🙂
    How was Pat Green?

  18. Aimee says:

    happy valentines day…
    :o) hugs and smiles are easy to give away they are free… :o) they are the perfect Valentine\’s day gift if you aren\’t sure what to get someone… :o) they highly contagious and most likely will be returned by the person you give them too… :o) so pass one to anyone cause everyone loves to be hugged by someone smiling… :o)  give them to people that you love… :o) and even to those you don\’t… :o) in no time the whole world will be feeling good… :o)

  19. tressie says:

    hey chica – have you read twilight or new moon?  new books by a wonderful author – my daughter AND i were mesmerized – it\’s a good vampire-ish type of book.  you would love it.

         __    ,.,-,(c \’;\’)_))\’//(__=3((—|> \’    L L   ))
    Here\’s a little cupid sending you Valentine\’s  Wishes.
           ♥ ➳ ♥  Happy Valentine\’s Day!!  ♥ ➳ ♥ 
                     ❤  ttfn ~ tressie k  ❤

  20. WINDOW LIVE says:

    It isn\’t being poor that makes these kids steal, it is total lack of parenting.  I was poor but my parents instilled values in their kids.  When some of my HS friends were shoplifting one day I walked outside.  They laughed and I told them my parents would have felt bad if I had stolen something.  They would have felt bad because they didn\’t have money to give me.

  21. KEL says:

    Just wanted to say YAY about the shoes being back…I like your fun/funky style and have missed the shoes.  ~K

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