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Examine the view that differences in educational achievement amongst ethnic minorities is a result of an ethnocentric curriculum. (20 marks)

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Introduction

´╗┐Examine the view that differences in educational achievement amongst ethnic minorities is a result of an ethnocentric curriculum. (20 marks) The issue of differences between the ethnic minority groups and educational achievement has been something which has been explored by educationalists and sociologists alike for a number of years; as it should have been because in a multi-cultural society where the education system promises to deliver ?equality of opportunity? we need to challenge why some ethnic groups perform so much better than others. In this essay, I will be exploring some of the possible explanations for the differences in achievement and will be demonstrating that it is a complex issue which involves more than just ethnicity. Evidence from official statistics demonstrates that the ethnic group who perform best and achieve the highest grades at GCSE are the Chinese group with approximately 83% achieving 5 A*-C. Indian pupils also do well, achieving approximately 74% compared to 60% of white British pupils. However, there are certain ethnic groups such as Afro-Caribbean and Pakistani children which are clearly underachieving. ...read more.

Middle

This is certainly the case for ethnic minority groups who may not speak English as their first language at home. The fact that a good grasp of English is required in order to access every area of the curriculum as well as the assessment demonstrates why this would be a problem. Mac an Ghaill identified this problem. Cultural factors are also important too. Amongst Pakistani girls the expectation is often that they will become mothers and wives as fulfil a traditional family role; this is partly due to the religious influence of their Muslim background. This may mean that for Pakistani girls there is not the same emphasis and importance given to education and we know that parental expectations play a large part in explaining educational achievement. West Indians are also held to have a family life which doesn?t encourage achievement at school but we have to treat generalisations like this with caution. The claim made here that it is the ethnocentric curriculum which accounts for ethnic minority underachievement was made by Cecile Wright who claimed that the UK curriculum was not only entirely focussed ...read more.

Conclusion

This would certainly seem to be a more powerful influence than the argument of an ethnocentric curriculum because the curriculum is only one aspect of the school experience and as Rosenthal and Jacobson showed us, the self-fulfilling prophecy can be very powerful. Gilbourn found that many teachers? felt that black students opposed their authority and disciplined them accordingly. Could this be an example of institutionalised racism? This could also explain the higher levels of exclusion from schools amongst the black ethnic group which would certainly explain underachievement. One final factor to consider is the lack of role models in schools for ethnic minority students. McCreith found that even when there are teachers in schools from ethnic minority groups, they are less likely to be in positions of power and therefore students are not provided with messages from people who have achieved academic success. I would argue that we cannot blame the ethnocentric curriculum alone for the underachievement of some ethnic groups but should instead look at a whole range of factors, as outlined above and should consider the fact that gender and social class are also extremely influential factors in determining academic success. ...read more.

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