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Examining Ethnic Differences in Achievemen Essay

1. The definition of an ethnic group is a group of people of the same race or nationality that share the same cultural norms and values. 2. Three ways in which the education system may encourage separation between children of different ethnic backgrounds are: Labelling and teacher racism, many teachers label their students and studies by interactionist sociologists found out that many teachers labelled black children as disruptive and they didn’t want them in their class. Another reason is the ethnocentric curriculum.

Troyna and Williams describe the curriculum in British schools as ethnocentric because it gives priority to white culture and the English language; this causes separation between white pupils and other ethnic pupils. A final reason is the selection and segregation available to schools. David Gillborn argues that marketization has given schools greater scope to select pupils. This puts some ethnic minority pupils at a disadvantage because selection gives more scope for negative stereotypes to influence decisions about school admissions.

3. There are many ways in which factors in children’s home background may lead to differences in achievement levels between ethnic groups. The first way is cultural deprivation; this is split into 3 aspects. The first is intellectual and linguistic skills. Cultural deprivation theorists argue that many children from low-income black families lack intellectual stimulation and enriching experiences. Bereiter and Engelmann consider the language spoken by low-income black American families as inadequate for educational success.

The next aspect is attitudes and values. Cultural deprivation theorists say that some black children are socialised into a subculture that instils a fatalistic ‘live for toady’ attitude that does not value education and leaves them unequipped for success. The final aspect of cultural deprivation is family structure and parental support. Daniel Moynihan argues that because many black families are headed by a lone mother, their children are deprived of adequate care because she has to struggle financially in the absence of a male breadwinner.

Also Ken Pryce claims that Asians are higher achievers because their cukture is more resistant to racism and gives them a greater sense of self-worth. However, he argues, black Caribbean culture is less cohesive and less resistant to racism. As a result, many balck pupils have low self-esteem and under-achieve. Another reason is Material deprivation and class. According to Flaherty; Pakistani’s and Bangladeshis are over three times more likely than whites to be in the poorest fifth of the population, as a result statistics show that Pakistani and Bangladeshi boys are among the lowest ethnic groups in the country to obtain 5 A-C GCSE’s.

A final reason is racism in wider society. David Mason says “ discrimination is a continuing and persistent feature of the experience of Britain’s citizens of minority ethnic origin. ” 4. The differences in educational attainment between different groups of pupils have been a major focus of much sociological research. These differences can often be seen to be largely due to different social class, but also gender or ethnicity. Social class is the most significant and dominant factor when looking at these differences, but ethnicity also has a relative impact on educational achievement.

Education has a key role to play in eradicating racism and valuing diversity and it a responsibility for all educational establishments, including those with few or no ethnic minority pupils. Promoting racial equality demands a whole school approach and commitment from all those who are involved in the life and work of their school. Racism is linked to the educational achievement of minority ethnic groups, however the connections are complex.

Gilborn and Mirza conclude that ‘social class and gender differences are also associated with differences in attainment but neither can account for persistent underlying ethnic inequalities: comparing like with like, African Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils do not enjoy equal opportunities. ’ They also argue that in promoting educational inclusion as a means of raising standards, there is a need ‘for clarity and guidance in translating the commitment to equality and inclusion into policy proposals and practice at the local and school level.

Many cultural deprivation theorists see the lack of intellectual and linguistic skills as a major cause of under-achievement. Gordon Bowker identifies their lack of standard English as a major barrier to progress in education and integration into wider society. However the Swann Report found that language was not a major factor in under-achievement. Other cultural deprivation theorists suc as Charles Murray argue that a high rate of lone parenthood and a lack of positive male role models lead to the under-achievement of some minorities.

Also Anthony Flew believes that ethnic differences in achievement stem from cultural differences outside the education system, not discrimination within it. However Geoffrey Driver criticises the cultural deprivation theory for ignoring the positive effects of ethnicity on achievement. He shows that the black Caribbean family, far from being dysfunctional, provides girls with positive role models of strong independent wome Driver argues this is why black girls tend to be more successful in education than black boys.

Some socilogists that the ethnic differences in education are cause by racism. John Rex shows how racial discrimination leads to social exclusion and how this worsens the poverty faced by ethnic minorities. In housing, for instance, discrimination means that minorities are more likely to be forced into substandard acoomodation than white people of the same class. This creates separation due to the ethnic children not being able to study at home and therefore getting lower grades than the white children who are able to study at home.


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