Behavior: Time Is Not on Their Side

Fresh insights into why many poor children do badly in school

For a child in kindergarten, the day is carefully divided into time for listening, playing, coloring, snacking and napping. Middle-class children, raised by parents who worship their watches, adapt easily to this regimen. But for many disadvantaged inner-city youngsters, the structure of the school day apparently seems totally unfamiliar. They often resist the idea that they should stop doing one thing simply because it is time to do something else.

Why are many children of the urban poor so uncomfortable in school? One explanation comes from University of Chicago Professor Dolores Norton, who is conducting a unique study of the intellectual...

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