Catastrophe or Opportunity?: Rethinking and Resisting Deficit Perspectives on the Language and Culture of Children Living in Poverty

By Tracy Smiles, Western Oregon University
(This originally appeared in the Oregon Reading Association’s quarterly newsletter, The ORAcle—Winter 2015).


One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding.
Paulo Freire

A Troubling Discourse

Just the other day I overheard an administrator addressing a group of preservice teachers. He explained, “Children living in poverty have little to no vocabulary.” While this well-meaning individual was trying to describe some of the very real challenges these future teachers could face teaching in culturally, economically, and linguistically diverse contexts, I was troubled by this discourse Continue reading