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Outline and assess sociological explanations for differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups.

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Introduction

´╗┐Outline and assess sociological explanations for differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups. There are a variety of sociological interpretations of the reasoning behind the differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups. However, they can generally be divided into two categories: those who believe that differences in educational achievement are down to the individual/ethnic group, and those who believe that it is a result of institutional discrimination/poverty. Nonetheless, they generally agree with the idea that there are differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups. Traditional conservative thinkers, including New Right and functionalist theorists, believe that differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups is down to differing attitudes in school. For example, Parsons (1952) believed that the education system was based on the principle of meritocracy; that is, the view that those who work hard will earn an achieved status, and thus would blame differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups on the ethnic groups themselves. This view is partially shared by Sewell (1997), who suggested that Afro-Caribbean boys lacked role models and subsequently adopted an aggressive version of masculinity, abandoning their studies, and becoming susceptible to a life of crime. ...read more.

Middle

In this sense, although social solidarity plays a minor role in embedding ?British values? into ethnic minority students, it doesn?t adequately explain the differences in educational achievement between different groups. Many sociologists disagree with the belief that ethnicity and culture are responsible for differential educational achievement between ethnic groups. Instead, they believe that blame lies within the education system itself. One sociologist who supports this view is Strand (2008) who argued that schools purposefully entered fewer Afro-Caribbean students for higher-tier tests in Science and Mathematics. Strand said this was a result of teachers incorrectly labelling Afro-Caribbean students as disruptive and thus unintelligent. This view is supported by Wright (1992), who found that teachers treated Asian students differently on the assumption they would have a poor grasp of English, and as a result used simplified language in conversation and did not allow them to partake in classroom discussions. However, the idea that all schools are institutionally racist has been rebuffed by Sewell, who argues that such claims only serve to provide disruptive Afro-Caribbean students with an excuse. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this sense, both Marxists and feminists would regard differences in educational achievement between ethnic groups as a result of social institutions. However, both theories neglect some of the educational achievements of ethnic minorities. For instance, Francis and Archer (2006) discovered that British-Chinese students were more successful than their white British counterparts in maintaining their commitment to educational success. Nonetheless, Francis and Archer also discovered that many British-Chinese felt insecure about their ability, despite in some cases being top of the class, which re-affirms the view that differences in educational achievement can be explained partly by the way in which different ethnic groups are treated within the education system. Overall, although there is an opportunity for all students, regardless of their ethnic background, to succeed in the education system, some ethnic groups may find it harder to achieve as a result of labelling, discrimination and institutionalised racism. However, although such inequalities are still present, it is generally agreed that they have become less pronounced in the education system over the past few decades. ...read more.

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