Thursday, September 30, 2010

Values & the Harlem Zone

In chapter 4, Paul Tough writes about Geoffrey Canada's philosophy of empowering Harlem parents who live in poverty by equipping them with "that middle-class set of aspirations," especially parenting skills and particular values. Empowering those Harlem parents in this way would better prepare their children for the challenges of the world.

Canada envisions taking a different approach rather than the usual approach of separating people from their troubled environment. He instead "wants to leave Harlem's poor children exactly where they are, so that they change the neighborhood and the neighborhood changes them." Tough reports that Canada regularly refers to this process of a positive "contamination."

In your view, what are the benefits and/or shortcomings of instilling parents from struggling environments with the presumable middle-class and upper-class values necessary to adequately prepare children to achieve in our society? And how do you feel about those benefits or shortcomings?


Clifford Rush III said...

The benefits of preparing these families with these values that middle and upper classes have are obvious. If they follow through with the teaching, they will truly learn things that they wouldn't generally have access to. This could only lead to a better quality of life for them as well as preparing their children.

Unfortunately, the economic value of these people don't necessarily correlate with their family values or parenting skills. They might be addressing the wrong issues for some of these parents. This could cause some tension between these parents if the program suggest that if your poor, your a bad parent with a bad family.

Their could be many benefits coupled with some shortcomings. I completely agree with the programs they are doing. The program has the right goals for these family and is helping society. It just needs to make sure that they aren't focusing on poor = bad family.

Douglas Timm said...

The major benefits of preparing these families is that you are teaching them and giving them to skills to be much better parents. Without Canada's help, these people wouldn't have the skills needed to raise children in the right way. However, these skills or ideas may interfere with how the parents believe their children to be raised. This can cause tension, as what happened with Victor and the workers in chapter 3. But, these parents needed to swallow their pride because obviously their ways don't work, and they need dire help.

TaNeal Walls said...

I agree with Clifford's suggestion. From experience and observation I can testify that while in the process of improvement if a negative connotation is associated with what's already going on in life, then the outcome will not be as great. If they focus on getting across to these poor people that the little that they DO have is a blessing, rather than the pits, the people can potentially begin this program with a completely different outlook, a little more knowledge, patience, and encouragement.

Nevertheless, the initiative to help people who can't help themselves is great.

Daniel Shields said...

I believe that instilling parents from struggling environments with the presumable middle-class and upper-class values is kind of saying that people from poor areas don't have good values of their own. I know several people who have come from the ghetto and were raised with outstanding morals and values. I don't think you can judge someones values by their income or place of residence.

I do however think that resources that come with a middle/upper middle class family can most defiantly benefit youth from less thriving areas. I do agree with Mr Rush, in that I hope the focus isn't on poor families= bad values

Wesley Sloan said...

The most important benefit brought by instilling new values would be giving disadvantaged children that chance to rise out of their poor environment. If the parents are taught techniques that have been proven to be successful in our society then their children will have the same advantage that their counterparts have. One other possible benefit would be a sense of unity if people had things in common like values and upbringing. When Canada went to Bowdoin he felt alienated because of the differences in values and cultures. This common feeling among the black students at Bowdoin could have possibly been avoided if everyone was brought up the same way and instilled with the same values.An obvious shortcoming would be a loss of cultural identity. When the parents' ideals are changed with middle class and upper class values then their children are changed too and they lose a part of what made them in the first place. Canada for that reason wants them to stay in the neighborhood and have it change them.

Cultural identity is essential for every person but i think in our society it is more important that people are given as much of a chance to succeed as possible. It is a definite shortcoming to change the very essence of parents and their identity but i think for the benefit of the child it is worth it. What it comes down to is changing from a parenting way that hasn't succeeded, to a parenting strategy that has been successful for the middle and upper class.

Hayoung Yu said...

I do believe that having a certain set of values makes a world of difference in one's life. Instilling middle-class values would benefit families greatly because the feeling of good success is rewarding and there will be more desire to keep being successful. The less fortunate people should know that there are better ways of living and that it is achievable and there are plenty of opportunities for children to get the proper education with financial aid and such and the success of one with middle to upper class values and standards will set an example for others to follow.
Having these values are not "better" than lower class values, but rather just higher goals and even more belief in oneself to succeed.

Alaina Waters said...

You are a product of your environment but that doesn't mean that each and every person who grows up in a lower class family or area will turn out to have lesser moral values than those of upper or middle class families. On the other hand, if someone is given the resources they need to thrive and achieve a better quality of life, they will definitely be better off in society.

I also happen to know several people who didn't exactly grow up in the safest areas but a lot of them are quite successful because they wanted better for themselves.

I think that Harlem Zone is doing a great job at trying to make a difference in each of these families lives but they also have to remember that growing up in a certain area doesn't always mean that each and every family will have bad morals and values.

Tia Spiller said...

Instilling middle-class and upper-class values will help the children have more of a chance to succeed by providing them with the materials they wouldn't normally have. It would give them the ability to compete with the children who grew up in wealthier families.

As others have said, the values that the people of Harlem already have shouldn't be pushed aside though. Every parenting style has its downs, but not everything is negative. While instilling these new values they should also emphasize the positive ones that Harlem's parents already have. I believe that with Canada having the children remain in Harlem, it will help retain some of the old values while introducing the new ones.

Anonymous said...

I think the instilling of middle-class/ upperclass is extremely valuable to the parents. It's an opportunity to raise their children in a way they might not have been raised in themselves, and prepares their children for a more opportunistic future.

I also thing that Canada's vision of 'contamination' is genius. Although, it comes to mind to move out of a place for your children to have a better future, it's more efficient to stay there and to change it, because then you're not only helping your child but the future of children for the next generation.
-Cassaundra Sampson

Chris Stewart said...

Instilling parents with upper and middle-class values is benefitial because it gives them a perspective that they may not have had otherwise. It was done with the hope that the children would grow up and make their neighborhood a better place so future generations would not have to go through the same things.

Shortcomings are that parents would take it the wrong way. They may think that they are saying poor family are a bad environment for children.

This is a very benefitial program that will do well as long as they stress that they are not insulting their parenting because they are poor.

Catalina Trevino said...

I believe that equipping those in poverty with middle-class aspirations could be a good thing and also a bad thing. Of course, it is always nice to instill positive values toward a group of less fortunate, but there is always going to be that one group. It is never going to be equal, that is just how society works. If I were living in a poor society and someone was trying to make me think as a middle class person, I don't think it would be as easy said than done. First, lower class people do not feel worthy of living with such high standards. Not only do they not feel worthy, but also simply can't afford to have such high standards. Single mothers living in poverty can not sit at home making sure her children read and do their homework and preach to them about going to college. If parents aren't doing this, their children are more likely to fall into their footsteps, just attempting to make ends meet.

Christine Vu said...

Tough's particular philosophy of incorporating middle class aspirations into parental teachings can be an aspect that can able their children to have different sets of perspectives in any type of situation. In conjunction with the advice that their parents are sharing with their kids, this mode of action can instill a method that can enhance the capabilities of these children, creating a newer and greater generation that could lead to their prosperity. This shouldn't be an idea that is to be perceived offensive, rather, an idea that can help make the community strive.

J. Tanulanond said...

I believe that the concept of instilling the harlem parents with the middle-class mindset of values and aspirations is a great idea. However, this could be detrimental as well as beneficial. Setting such high standards for people who are used to lower ones can easily ruin trust. If a parent feels that it isn't going right, they'll quickly revert back to their original mindset. This is typical for any new concept for parents regarding their children's upbringing. It can also cause the parents' expectations to be too high for their children which can also hurt the relationships. On the other hand, this idea can be extremely beneficial. With this new mindset, parents would be able to push for a better life. They would be able to strive harder to achieve the better status that they were equipped to mimic. I feel that the benefits outweigh the shortcomings. You can't expect different results from the same experiment.

N.L.W. said...

The benefits of instilling the parents with middle and upper class values is important because the values that they are being taught will help them as parents to prepare their children to excel beyond ones imagination. To be and do more than the parents themselves have done and to possibly rise out of poverty.Become the advantaged and no longer the disadvantaged.
The program is giving parents the resources that they need to be awesome parents and give their children the resources they need to do well in all that they do and exceed the statistic.
And I agree with Chris and Douglas, the parents may get offended or may not believe that the programs way of teaching would help but it's something that needs to be done!

**Nia Williams

Abagail Thompson said...

I believe that there are more benefits to instilling a higher standard of aspirations into poverty stricken parents than harms. It is almost impossible to remove every person targeted by poverty out of their malevolent conditions, but it is not impossible to get them to aim higher to achieve brighter things in life. The true cure is not get people out of the ghetto, but to eliminate the ghettos. If you remove the people currently in the ghetto, more will come. If you eliminate the ghetto, people will still come, but to a positive place. Nothing can change until there is a change in one’s mindset. If the mindset of parents are to do better, then better things are going to start happening. Positive “contamination” is a step in the right direction.

Tyann Senaldi said...

I think that the benefits of preparing these parents definitely outweigh any shortcomings. If they use this knowledge, they can greatly change their lives--and of course their children's lives--forever, but if they don't, they will fall back into a vicious pattern. Just like in chapter 3, it talks about how parents who aren't shown any better usually do what their parents did, which didn't work either. But also like chapter 3, these new ideas can always clash with what parents believe is RIGHT, so these new ideas may not always work.

Anonymous said...

I am all for "instilling parents from struggling environments with the presumable middle-class and upper-class values." Knowledge is power. If what they are doing has not worked and is not working then it is time to find a new stragegy. Knowing what works for other people is a good start. In this chapter, it seems as though some of the characters discourage the middle class/upper class values because of the encouragement of competiveness even at a young age but that is just how the world operates. We compete for everything-jobs etc. Taking on the mindset, values and concepts that the parents in middle/upper class families will be beneficial. Not very many shortcomings/downfalls are obvious to me

Cassandra Smith