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Education:  Learning to Rise above Poverty 7

of alleviating poverty in which generational poverty is the emphasis.  This is a learned way of life out of which people will not rise if they are never given an opportunity to do so.  Education is that opportunity.  Teachers can enable the students of whom they are in charge to be successful, motivated, optimistic, goal-oriented, and critical thinkers.  This can then lead to the ability to rise above their obstacles and better their own lives, as well as the lives of future generations.

Another critical aspect to address is whether or not poverty affects learning.  Emerson (2007) stated that poverty decreases a child’s social experiences and reduces opportunities.  This directly relates to intellectual functioning.  McDermot and Altekrusse estimated that reducing the proportion of children in poverty could decrease the prevalence of intellectual disability in the U.S. by 10% (Emerson, 2007).  This research clearly demonstrates a link between poverty and intellect, but what are the causes found within this connection?  

To begin, cultural norms are a major factor.  This affects a child’s intelligence because families teach or model behaviors based on what they feel is important or what they know (Bryant & Maxwell, 1999).  This fact demonstrates that a cycle of attitudes is highly likely to occur and that we are a product of our environments.  Emerson (2007) also supported this concept in his research.  He stated that poverty affects intellectual functioning for a variety of reasons, including poor parenting, lack of education, environmental hazards, and family structure.  The cycle of generational poverty demonstrates this also.  The current generation teaches what they were taught by the previous and so on and so forth.  The many examples of research have proven that poverty directly affects intellectual ability.  In turn, it has also been linked to school

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