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Using information from the items and elsewhere, discuss the view that social class differences in educational achievement are the result of cultural factors.

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Introduction

5. Using information from the items and elsewhere, discuss the view that social class differences in educational achievement are the result of cultural factors. There is no question that achievement in education depends on various factors. Sociologists argue over which factors are more important, the upbringing of the child, the cultural capital which it possesses, the social group it belongs to, the input of the school, the expectations of the teachers and many more. The picture of the working class subculture is not an attractive one. It is portrayed as a substandard version of mainstream middle class culture. Its standard deteriorates towards the lower levels of the working class, and at rock bottom it becomes the culture of poverty. From this portrayal the theory of cultural deprivation was developed, stating that the subculture of low-income groups is deprived or deficient in certain important respects and this accounts for the low educational attainment of members of these groups. This theory places the blame for educational failure on the children and their family, their neighbourhood and the subculture of their social group. ...read more.

Middle

The 11+ tests have been criticised for middle class bias. Being able to unscramble words such as 'ZOMRAT' to MOZART is much easier for a child familiar with anagrams (because their parents do crosswords) and classical composers (because they have seen the names on their parents CD collection). Many working-class and ethnic minority pupils may feel undervalued and de-motivated by an educational system that does not recognise their qualities, which are based on their class and ethnic culture. Culture is obviously an important factor in determining the achievement and success that a child will have in school. Surveys have found that Indian, Chinese and African-Asian children do very well within the education system. This may be because there is a string emphasis on self-improvement through education within these cultures, and many of the children have professional backgrounds, providing support, appropriate role models and material advantages. Their culture, is perceived more positively by teachers than that of West Indian males. West Indian males tend to get fewer GCSEs and poorer grades than any other group. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, afro-Caribbean boys often have the label 'unruly,' 'disrespectful,' and 'difficult to control.' The teachers may interpret (or misinterpret) the dress and manner of speech of Afro-Caribbean pupils as representing a challenge to their authority. This would obviously be racist behaviour, but perhaps it is something that teachers cannot control - especially if they are not aware of what they are sub-consciously doing. Another factor that could argue as to how schools themselves are the cause of different achievements in social class and ethnic groups are that there are various different schools for separate classes. Depending on the amount of money that you have determines what kind of school you attend. If you are very wealthy (upper/middle class), your child is more likely to attend a private school than a comprehensive, and also more likely to go on to further education. This results in there being a lot of competition between the different schools, and it also re-in forces the inequality between different social classes and ethnic groups. So it could be argued that the schools themselves are the problem as to why there is so much difference in achievement within social classes and ethnic minorities. ...read more.

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