BRIEF INVITED PAPER FOR CONFERENCE "ENVIRONMENT OF EDUCATION OF CHILDREN" (PRE-SCHOOL-GRADE 1). MAGNETOGORSK, RUSSIA.
One dynamic area of childhood learning that needs to be discussed in detail is the way in which poverty can lower cognitive skills and interfere with learning ability; I would like to focus a bit on this dynamic.
There has been a tendency in some elements of society, notably right wing conservatives, to almost moralise poverty and the lower levels of cognitive and learning ability in people who grow up in poverty and suffering from malnutrition. While this is particularly true in America, such destructive attitudes exist elsewhere.
Poverty begets poverty. Low income families, those confined to minimum wage incomes and other forms of poverty, tend to remain at poverty levels for some generations. During the dark era of the Eugenics theory, it was posited that families that lived below or near the poverty level were mentally deficient due to some hereditary abnormality. The so-called "prosperity gospel" of some religious sects transferred this eugenics theory into a morality theory. The basic idea was that people lived in poverty because they merited God's disfavour. The theories are reflected in efforts by certain political wings striving to terminate school nutrition programmes that provide for what is often the only nutritious meal that poor children receive each day for the five days a week that they are in school. Even this does nothing to help create a successful learning environment for preschool children who live at or near the poverty level. In some nations, including in North America, this affects millions of children.