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Educational Underachievement Essay

Some sociologists believe in-school factors are responsible for educational underachievement because of many reasons such as- subcultures, setting and streaming and Interactionism where teachers label a pupils likely performance which have an impact on that individual which can be in the form of racism. In opposition, some sociologists disagree because there out-of-school factors too such as; material deprivation, cultural deprivation and innate explanation theory. I have to discuss if in-school factors are responsible. On the one hand, sociologists agree that in-school factors are the cause for educational underachievement as subcultures within schools change through anti-school students. This is because several individuals in school ethos may experience peer-pressure or feel intimidated from their teachers and pro-students who make them conform a specific culture that doesn’t value education such as; ‘urban’ or ‘street’.

Therefore he/she could underachieve; they have anti-learning attitudes and a bad perspective of the school due to the expected code of behaviour from their teachers, which is failure, even know they may be smart. They start to accept their label as failure and displace the schools norms and values with their own where they bunk school, disrupt lessons and argue with teachers. Another reason is the educational system is unfair. Schools may give same test to all students however the test covers a less range of skills; memory, knowledge and logic. Therefore, some pupils have an advantage. Students who have mixed abilities, are shown as less able to achieve good grades as that test is excluding their best skills. The setting and streaming of a school can also be unfair.

Some students are just thrown in lower sets (3,4,5) because of their behaviour rather than their smartness. So, teachers have lower expectations for them and may underestimate their abilities which causes them to underachieve even though they may be bright. The Interactionism theory is where school teachers can intentionally or unintentionally label students. They label students which is attached to that individual either as a good or bad stigma. But bad stigma can be very sticky to take off and it may result as a stereotype. Sociologists, Rosenthal and Jacobson experimented with the idea of labelling. They found out students that were told would be successful, achieved the highest by spurting as teachers believed in them more highly. This suggests labelling leads to self-fulfilling prophecy where pupils achievements are as good or bad as they were told. A bad label leads the individual to perform as badly as their teachers anticipated them to.

As a result of this, they experience negative self-fulfilling prophecy that causes underachievement. Lastly, some schools can be institutionally racist. Some teachers can talk very slowly to different ethics, for example, African Caribbean boys because they have the sticky stereotype they are naughty and easily distracted. This can lead to African Caribbean boys accepting this therefore those ethnic minority pupils underachieve at school. Moreover, some schools have exams the day after Eid which can be racist as they don’t take into account Muslim students can’t revise for that particular test the day before therefore their self esteem is lowered. On the other hand, sociologists consider that out-of-school factors are responsible for educational underachievement.

Sociologists believe that children’s attitudes towards learning begin to develop at an early stage, in their home environment and these attitudes affect success of the child’s education later on in life. Working class or underclass backgrounds, or different ethnics like Afro-Caribbean and Bangladeshi pupils are likely to suffer from cultural deprivation as parents lack interest and expectations in education making the children feel they lack skills, knowledge and feel less confident at school. Middle class and Chinese students achieve more as they have more cultural capital where their parents take interest and have high expectations. So early stages of an individuals life affects their education at school. Sociologists agree that material deprivation impacts on a child’s success.

By material deprivation you can experience lack of resources. For example, if you are poor, you have no extra resources such as; revision books, laptop or a private tutor to help enhance knowledge in learning therefore you can underachieve and in the long term in would impact on the individuals career. Bullying can be caused from material deprivation from the lack of appearance in- shoe, clothes, make-up, hair. It can cause the individual to worry so much about that situation that the student couldn’t learn up to her/his full potential. The innate explanation is the theory where some people are genetically less intelligent. This leads to sociologists arguing some students are just not clever as others therefore in-school factors are not at fault for educational underachievement. Gender differences is also an out-of-school factor. It is said girls outperform boys, this is believed to be because girls and boys are socialised differently when young.

Their parents put their beliefs on gender stereotypes and encourage girls to read in doors however disprove if boys to read so they send him outside to play. Therefore girls have an advantage as they are learning from a younger age while boys start to learn at school. Moreover, boys are less involved in education and seem casual; this could lead to underachievement. Whereas girls are organized and interested. To conclude, I think sociologists would disagree in-school factors are responsible as out-of-school factors are more the origin of educational underachievement. This is because children education starts in the home environment.

Also of cultural and material deprivation. If parents value education more greatly; and the parents educational backgrounds are high-level they take interest in child’s progress and help with homework therefore the students would be achieving confidently at their best potential. However children who suffer cultural deprivation are not motivated from an early stage. Children from poor families have no access to facilities to help them study at home. Yet in-school factors such as- peer groups and the setting and streaming off schools can be very unfair as they don’t test a range of skills.


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