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Do schools provide educational equality?

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Introduction

Ethnicity Introduction Do schools provide educational equality? The doctrine of educational equality is enshrined in the 1944 Education Act. This Act perpetuates the idea that the British education system is a force promoting social mobility based on merit. However, the evidence from both the Tripartite and Comprehensive systems indicates quite clearly that ascribed characteristics strongly influence educational achievement. Some sociologists are prepared to argue that differential achievement only reflects different levels of ability. Most sociologists accept that the education system actually perpetuates and affirms socially constructed inequalities. A serious criticism of sociological investigations into ethnicity and education is that a fairly narrow approach has been taken. The dominant issue has been the educational performance of ethnic minority children. By concentrating research into the 'black underachievement' issue some have argued that: Sociologists have: Reinforced racist stereotyping about black inferiority. Ignored the issues raised by black and Asian communities. Ignored the wider issue of black educational experience as a whole. As a result of this bias a lot of research was done on black underachievement but very little was carried out into black pupils' experiences in schools, about teacher attitudes or parent-teacher relations. Main research areas An outline of the main areas to be considered 1. Research 'within' schools: Teachers Students Texts and Curriculum 2. Research 'outside' schools: Culture Language Class Gender 3. Educational Policy: Assimilation Multi-culturalism Anti-racism Research 'within' schools Looking at teachers Wright (1992) ...read more.

Middle

Attempts to reduce the ethnocentric nature of the curriculum have tended to embrace aspects of ethnic minority life style rather than address their reduced life chances. The result was curriculum recognition at the level of music and dance, ceremony and cuisine. 'Outside' school explanations Culture Generally, these type of explanations have adopted the 'deficit' approach towards ethnic minorities, and, in effect, 'blame the victim' (Massey, 1991). Writers such as Flew (1986) argue that inequality of outcome in terms of educational attainment is not a result of inequality of opportunity, but rather are the result, as Sowell (1981) argues, of differences in culture. Scruton (1986) then argues that if it is ethnic minority culture that holds back pupils then the solution is for such pupils to embrace British culture in the education system and use leisure time to develop and preserve their own culture. Language It's easy to understand that some students will experience difficulties in learning because English is not their first language. Such students, unlike those who, like black British students, are perceived as having non-standard English, may attract funding (Taylor, 1981). There is some evidence that speakers of black British English may be labelled as less able because of the form of language they use. A consequence is that such students may well feel discriminated against and actually use their language to 'resist' schooling, (Mac an Gail, 1988). ...read more.

Conclusion

Its aim is to examine and challenge racism ion schools and society. This approach too has its critics. On the right there is the claim that anti-racism constitutes an attack on nationhood. In Britain, O'Keefe (1986) argued that those involved in race relations promote disharmony. Some critics view multi-culturalism as 'indoctrination' by teachers who should remain neutral. The Macdonald Report (1989) blamed a school's anti-racist policy for alienating white working class pupils and thereby contributing to the murder of an Asian pupil. On the left, sociologists such as Gilroy (1990) and Mohood (1989) have criticised some anti-racist policies for 'colour racism' - focussing on black and white and ignoring other minority groups. Post-modernist research Post-modernists argue that simple comparisons of the experiences of black, white or Asian students is simplistic and unhelpful. The categories are crude, they ignore many other minority groups, but also there are differences within the categories (Brah, 1992). Crude typologies ignore the diversity of cultural identities in contemporary Britain. Postmodernists argue that the fluid and diverse nature of contemporary society makes attempts to explain education (or anything else) in blanket terms, such as class, gender or 'race', as both foolishly inadequate and likely to be hopelessly inaccurate. McLaren (1991) argues that globalisation and increasing ethnic plurality in British society necessitates a different way of thinking about ethnic issues. What is advocated is the development of challenges to racist ideas and patterns of behaviour in the classroom, and the need for education to empower disadvantaged groups. But this is all a bit vague and post-modernist abstraction. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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