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In his article, Neito (2008) defines culture as a product of life’s circumstances. He also points out some characteristics that help us to understand how culture is encompassed in learning and how those characteristics obfuscate our pathway to a smoother inclusive education. Neito (2008) defines culture as constantly changing values, traditions, relationships, and worldviews that are shared by a group of people who are connected through a common factor such as history, geographic location, language, social class, and religion. One of the characteristics that Neito highlights is that culture is dynamic, meaning it is always active and changing.
Cultures are rapidly on the move as a result of political, social, and other changes that influence its native environment. He describes cultural change more of a hybrid, where people choose to select and reject certain elements of culture. He emphasizes that cultural values are not gotten rid of or infused easily in many native American and immigrant cultures. Neito describes culture as having both surface and deep structure.
He gave an example of Marisol, a young Puerto Rican woman and how she like many youngsters are influenced by the urban culture, but also explained that when she interviewed, she reflected deep aspects of Puerto Rican culture. Neito also covers how culture is multifaceted, and how one can have multiple cultural identities without implying that each identity is claimed or manifested equally. He claims that people who are similar in some traits such as ethnic heritage, or sexual orientation might have a little in common other than those two traits.
He also adds that people create and choose their identities differently. He elaborates by an example of how one Mexican-American lesbian may choose to identify herself first by ethnicity, another may identify as a lesbian, a third as both, and might mainly associate herself with the working class. Those differences can emerge because of location, experience, and social class.
Yosso (2005) discusses the critical race theory and cultural wealth. He refers to culture as learned behaviors and values that are shared and displayed by a group of people. Yosso also describes culture as a set of unfixed characteristics, and that it is exhibited as material and nonmaterial productions. He highlights the works of Pierre Bourdieu, who mentioned that the knowledge of middle and upper classes are considered as a capital value. If one is not born into a family whose knowledge is viewed as valuable, one could learn that knowledge through formal schooling. He calls on how People of Color ‘lack’ the social and cultural capital required for social mobility, and how most schools build on that assumption in structuring methods to assist disadvantaged’ students whose race and class background has made them lack the essential skills and cultural capital.
In a PBS News Hour interview of Charles Murray (2012), Murray claims that the growing lower class has fallen away from core behaviors and foundations that made America what it is today. For, Murray suggests that the upper class of the society should try to share their superior virtues and values with the ones who lack them. Murray argues that the lower class is less honest, less religious, and less responsible than white working class people were half-a-century ago. He gives an example of the increasing number of violent crimes. Murray (2002) also describes the way upper class lives as a good way to live. He says that doesn’t mean they’re passing laws and It doesn’t mean they’re forcing people, but those people are setting a standard. According to him, the way that social norms become social norms is not through so e systematic process but through a flowering of an understanding within a culture. Murray (2017), explains his book The bell curve, that claims that economic success comes increasingly from genetic differences in I.Q.
He reasons that low intelligence is a greater cause of poverty than a low socioeconomic background. According to him, poverty has a small impact on dropping out of school independent of IQ, it has a substantial independent effect on whether a person graduates school with a regular diploma or a high school equivalency certificate. Murray (2017) also asserts that neglect and abuse are heavily concentrated in houses of low socioeconomic background. In addition, he illustrates that the self-selection process that used to appeal classic American immigrants with qualities of braveness, hard work, imagination, self-start, and often high IQ has changed, and for, the type of immigrant population has changed. In her article, Isaacs (2012) addresses the problem of school readiness of poor children. She explains how poverty is still an important stimulus on school readiness, mainly through its influence on many of the observed differences between people of lower and higher socioeconomic backgrounds. She states that key factors that influence school readiness include attendance of preschool, parenting behaviors, the education of parents, maternal depression, mothers smoking through pregnancy, and low birth weight.
Poor children are disadvantaged at the time they start school. Their health, behaviors, and skills make them less ready for kindergarten than children from higher economic backgrounds. Through the ways that family income can affect child development, poor families might lack the access of many resources essential to healthy child development, such as nutritious food, enhanced and stable home environment, and quality health care. Psychologically, the stress of poverty influences the psychological health of the parents, many of whom undergo depression, anxiety and other forms of psychological stress, affecting the parents’ interaction with their children.
Neito (2008) speaks upon is how culture is influenced by social, economic, and political factors. He claims that dominant social groups in a society determine what counts as culture. For that, a dominant culture group can designate itself as “the norm” and others as “culturally deprived.” To further explain the influence of social, economic and political factors on culture, Neito also cites the theories of the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, and how that “it is not simply money, or economic capital, that determines one’s standing in the social structure; equally important are what he has termed social capital and cultural capital.” (Neito, 2008)
Neito explains how disadvantaged culture is affected at schooling. He gives an example of how Black English might have an effect on learning and academic achievement. As he clarifies, most schools are structured in a way to incorporate and support the cultural capital of privileged social and cultural groups, in the case of the United States, that group is English speaking middle class or upper-class whites. Therefore, some children, raised in those privileged cultural groups begin school with an implicit advantage because they have attained the appropriate cultural capital unconsciously and effortlessly in their homes. For that, their culture or the way they speak English is considered natural and correct. On the other hand, the low prestige of Black English causes complexities and problems in learning for African Americans.
Yosso (2005) speaks about revealing deficit thinking, and how informed research often ‘observes’ deprivation in communities of color. Yosso describes deficit thinking as a common form of contemporary racism in US schools. According to him, deficit thinking marks an impression that minority students and families are to be blamed for poor academic performance because students start schooling without the normative cultural knowledge and skills. Another reason is that it is assumed that parents from those minorities do not support or value their child’s education. Accordingly, schooling usually attempts to address the problem by teaching the supposedly passive students the necessary cultural knowledge believed valuable by dominant groups of the society. As Yosso mentions, the CRT lens views that community cultural wealth is the sets of knowledge, skills, abilities, and contacts retained and exhibited by Communities of Color to live through and resist oppression.
He explains that Communities of Color value cultural wealth through at least 6 forms of capital including aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial, and resistant capital. Those forms of capital are not limited or fixed, but they are rather parts of a dynamic process that accumulates as community cultural wealth.
The piece I agreed the most was Isaac’s paper on the school readiness of poor children. I honestly do not relate or have any experience with school readiness, but the author was very convincing. The author does not simply underline the causes of the school readiness gap between poor and richer children but rather highlights the inter-related influences caused by poverty on school readiness. In my opinion, Isaacs paper was holistic and provided strong supporting evidence. Her argument, to me, was very persuading. I was surprised that not only did she take into account the multiple factors of society and the causes of being unready, but she also mentioned interventions that are seeking to improve school readiness. Additionally, Isaac thoroughly examined the effectiveness of those programs. To me, Murray’s explanation of his own book The Bell Curve was very irrational. Although it is true that IQ might influence one’s class structure, Murray does not look into the other factors that determine one’s IQ. It might reasonable that people with lower socioeconomic positions in the society will have a lower IQ.
However, I think IQ is not just influenced genetically, but also through the environment one grows in. If a person lives in a stable environment, obtains the right nutrients, and exercises their brain through an intellectually stimulating education, they would highly likely develop a higher IQ. Of course, If one’s ancestors have had a low IQ due to the deprived quality of life they have lived, then this person is likely to have a low IQ. This is because of generational poverty, IQ affected by genetics and also IQ affected by the environment. From the privileged view of Murray, he does not even mention racism and discrimination as a cause of being poor. He also says that people with lower IQ’s tend to be more physically disabled because they might injure themselves since they have a lower IQ. Murray’s narrow view did not think about how people who live in a disadvantaged environment are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and have less access to proper medical care, and thus those people are more likely to have weaker bodies, to suffer from injuries, to be disabled, or even have a lower IQ.
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