Posts Tagged ‘social race and ethnicity’

EDCI 506 Blog week 10: Social Class, Race, and School Achievement

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

 

Social class and race have a huge impact on the school environment and te achievement of students within a classroom As much as we would like to think that all students are equal in their capability to learn and their motivations, it is not the case.  Students are from all different backgrounds, socially and economically.  The way that students have been raised, their morals/values and ideas, have a direct reflection on how that student will be perceived in the classroom and how much they are willing to achieve.

The Foundations of Education provides a detailed chart on how social class, race and ethnicity affect school performance. In summary the charts express that in average mathematics scores of eight graders in 2007, Asian/Pacific Islanders had the highest percentage, followed by non-Hispanic whites, then African Americans and then Hispanics.  Reading scores in 2007 were pretty much tied with Asian/Pacific Islanders rating the highest, then Hispanic, then African Americans. It also showed the poverty a percentage for those four groups, with African American’s having the highest poverty percentage followed by Hispanic, Asians and Whites.

Ever since the creation of education in the United States groups have been oppressed. Most commonly thought of when thinking of oppressed groups is African Americans but as time has gone on and the Hispanic population has steadily increased, educators are seeing a rising oppression with Hispanics.  As stated in Foundations of Education, “African Americans have a lower average socioeconomic status than that of white majority, even though many individual African Americans may be of higher SES than many whites…other major ethnic minority groups, such as Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, are also disproportionately low in socioeconomic status” (Gutek 343).  The fact that these groups are of low socioeconomic status puts a damper on the idea of education for children.  Often times the lower the socioeconomic status is, the less motivation and willingness a student may have to complete assignments, or even show up for school.  This doesn’t necessarily have to do with having a lack of an influential role model for the child, but may also be that the child’s basic needs are not being met (Maslov’s pyramid).  By not having these basic needs of food, clothing and shelter met the students may feel as if they need to do more to help their family rather than sit in a classroom for eight hours.

Foundations of Education also mentions that “Hispanic white and Asian students are more likely to compete high school than are African American and Latino students”  This could be due to a variety of factors.  Often the lower the socioeconomic status of a student the less they are willing to compete school.  I believe that it takes a well-rounded, educated and informed teacher to really help push those students to wanting to finish high school and seek a career, however there will be obstacles in the classroom that a teacher must overcome if they wish to see all their students succeed.  These obstacles are, but not limited to,

  1. Inappropriate instruction and curriculum: The teacher needs to be aware what the students know and what they need help with. Teachers cannot just assume that students know their basic math skills and vocabulary words, often times they might not and by continuing on with lessons that build off of the basics, you are just preventing the students from ever coming to level and achieving the best for them.
  2. Lack of Success: This goes in hand with inappropriate instructions.  If a student never learned or understood the fundamentals and they continue to be pushed to the next grade, they will eventually understand that they will not ever be able to accomplish that of other students, they will lack motivation to do assignments knowing that they might score an F on it. If they know that they have no room for improvement, why would they even try?
  3. Difficult conditions of teaching: This was showcased in the Freedom Writers movie.  If you have an inner-city school that has a mixture of cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds you classroom climate may not be what you expect.  It is up to the teacher to really get to know his/her students in order to make them all feel welcome
  4. Homogeneous grouping: This type of grouping has been praised and ridiculed in the recent years.  The idea of “tracking” students based on their intelligence and achievements has schools starting to put those higher-learners in one group and the lower-learning/thinkers in another group.  This type of grouping clearly discriminates between the two different types of learners.  Instead of embracing the class as a whole teachers focus their attention on helping the lower-level learners on basic fundamentals while the high-level, more independent students are free to explore more in depth of the topics and move on without much help.  I believe that homogenous grouping will inevitable happen (think of Regular, Advanced and AP classes, that right there is clear separation by ability level), or even reading groups in elementary schools.  Separation doesn’t just stop in education, in careers you are split up among the most intelligent and the least.  There will always be a discrimination dealing with intelligence.  However, I do believe that this type of grouping could cause more emotional problems for students.  If they know that they are in a slower-learning group they may not even try to push themselves because they are comfortable. Of course, I want my students to be comfortable but I also want them to push themselves to be better. I think that if teachers group homogeneously then there should always be a chance that students can advance to the other group. Also, the groups should always come back as a whole in order to reflect on what they did, that way the learners can see how each other interpreted the situation and may lead the slower-learners into new ideas and pathways for how they interpret situations.

Time and time again you will read that the more time a student spends in school and activities the less time they will have to get into trouble. I agree with this statement but I also think that it takes more than just giving the students an assignment or busy work.  The teacher needs to be able to express to the students the importance of an education, the importance of achieving goals and dreams.  If the students can see that the teacher is there to help them, through thick and think, I believe the students will do a little more than what they come off as being able to do.  Students need to feel accepted by their peers and teachers.  If the classroom is comfortable and the teacher continuously shows how subjects relate to life and the environment I believe that students will start to see why an education is so important and why they should be in school and trying to achieve their dreams.  In my future classroom I would want to start the year off by having the students write down their quarterly and yearly goals. I would want to reflect on these goals with the student and with the class to be sure that these goals can be accomplished. When the students can see how they are achieving their goals through learning and being in school I think it will show them just how important and successful they can be.

Resources:

Ornstein, A., Levine, D., & Gutek, G. (2011). Foundations of education. (11 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.