While trying to formulate a solution to help Harlem, Canada realizes that he first has to answer the question “what makes a poor person poor?” In the second chapter, Tough examines a variety of studies published since the 1950’s that tackle that question. We are ultimately led to the answer:
They are poor, this evidence suggested, not because of government aid, not because they are genetically flawed, and not because the system denies them opportunities, but because they lack certain specific skills.
We learn that the different parenting styles of middle class parents and working class/poor parents varies substantially, and through this, different skills are passed down. When middle class children, Tough observes, are given the skills that help them navigate through formal institutions, lower class children are being taught the skills that were “out of synch with the standards of institutions.”
With that being said, what skills do you believe are necessary for success in everyday life in mainstream American culture? Do you believe that those skills should be taught in school to those who don’t receive them?