To understand the concept of marginality we must first look at the literal meaning of the word ‘marginality. ’ In plain terms marginality refers to the “the property of being marginal or on the fringes” (wordnet. princeton. edu/perl/webwn). To understand marginality think of a square, everything within the square is central, everything on the boundaries has been marginalized. It is outside the border of the norm; it has been outcast. People get marginalized for a number of reasons.
If we try to delve into the reasons for marginality, we need to take a closer look at the0 theme of social marginality; sociologists have long been interested in the social psychology of “marginal persons” who live at the intersection of two cultures. The children of immigrant parents often experience such marginality as they try to copy with the divergent cultures of home and the community at large (Lortie 2002). Marginality affects not only a person’s environment but also his/her personality. And in no other place is marginality as prominent as in educational institutes.
Adolescents thrive on their differences and it’s a completely different kind of jungle so to speak. Individuals come together to construct social marginal groups. A popular term for this is a persons ‘click’ which includes people who are just like them and excludes everyone else. Personal experience The one time that I can remember I was marginalized was during the beginning of the year. It was the time when everyone has chosen their extra curricular activities and I seemed to be the only person who had not zeroed in on anything.
At the end of that month I realized all my friends had new ‘groups’ that they belonged to, where as I belonged no where. That was one incident where I had the strongest feeling of being abandoned and having no identity because I had failed to chose a path for myself. Groups that are marginalized Gender The first and most common reason for marginalization is gender. To begin with, we have the age old example of how a boy must ‘act like a man’. The average sports player in a school will shun the average intellectual student, because he may lack masculinity.
And inadvertently or ironically some one of higher intellect may find themselves out of place at a football match. Here, they may feel marginalized just as a sports player would at a math contest or a chess game. But an even more important factor when it comes to gender is not gender itself but sexuality. Homosexuality is looked down upon. Although as time passes people are becoming more and more tolerant of the choices other people make when it comes to sexuality; in general this is still a surefire way to find oneself on the fringes of the society. Homosexual or bisexuals are often out casts with few friends. Race and ethnicity
The feeling of being marginalized is at its peak for people with racial and ethnic differences. Race is the one thing that if separated can bring about negative consequences; individuals’ band together to form brotherhoods usually against other groups. Blacks will fight against whites; Asians won’t fit in with the rest etc. It is that sentiment of belonging somewhere that makes people exclude others. In order to find a place for themselves, a niche that belongs only to them, students only succeed in creating places and atmospheres where they may fit exceptionally well, but others cannot hope to fit in at all Clotfelter (2004).
Often students that come into schools on exchange programs are the worse hit by marginalization because not only do they have no idea of the culture they have stepped into, they have no means of dealing with it. When you live in a certain kind of society for a very long time only to have it change overnight you can’t process that change quickly enough to react to it; which is often a very good reason why foreign students find themselves isolated. In other cases they will find others like them and stick together. Social status What a person’s father does for a living, has a great impact on that person’s outlook on life.
People who are born into rich families will by general law have a superior air about them. They will also feel no hesitation in excluding those they feel are not worthy of their company. High society parties have no place for paupers. Like that in schools, a person’s social status may even contribute to intimidating others away from him. Many are often labeled stuck up or snobbish and ignored for no fault of their own. Religion In these times religion is not just spiritual, religion is conflict, people are afraid of other people’s religious preferences.
From the Roman Catholics to the devout Muslims; each needs to find their own place where they can find spiritual peace. The last decade has closed off people from exploring another religion as a means of interest i. e. people do not want to know about Islam because it is a terrorist religion. In that situation, one needs to find others who can understand where they are coming from; and thus from this stems more marginalization. Educators and marginalization Educators need to understand that being marginalized can severely shake a person’s confidence. Having to view life from the outskirts can have a tremendous impact on a student.
If students do not get along with one another the worst thing a teacher or instructor can do is chalk it up to ‘teenagers will be teenagers. ’ Isolation can affect them emotionally, mentally and even cause them to inflict physical harm on themselves. Accepting that there is a problem is the first step to helping a student. It is true that at times people may attract attention to themselves based on their differences i. e. a black student claims unfair treatment because he is black. However, this “victim mentality” (Lortie 2005) should not go ignored.
There is a very high chance that the student may be having real problems which the teachers could have easily solved. Another point is that teachers need to desensitize their students from all the negative influences of the media. We are told everyday that Arabs are terrorists, Blacks are car thieves, etc. this maybe true for a small minority but does not apply to the vast majority. But since kids today are addicted to television and get bombarded with negative imagery all the time, their opinions form in the same way and in the end those opinions may cause them to exclude some individuals from everything.
Teachers can also encourage differences by making students interact with each other. Diversity is what keeps the human race going; if they can make the students see that diversity is not a bad thing then that alone will affect their attitude. If different students interact with one another then perhaps like the Freedom Writers they will learn something from each others differences and not hate them.
wordnet. princeton. edu/perl/webwn Dan C. Lortie (2002). Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study, with a new Preface: University of Chicago Press
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