Teachers are generally quite accurate in predicting which solutions will succeed in class and group, but are such prophecies self-fulfilling. Teachers award grade not only on the basis of mastery of coursework but such factors as diligence, submissiveness and ‘teacher pleasing’ behavior, and their own prejudice. Many of these factors flow from differences in social background. Also, the child who upon entering school has undeveloped reading or math skills may be unfairly categorized, formally or informally, as unable.
Moreover, much categorizing is based on tests that are themselves regarded by many as biased against children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Intelligence and achievement tests can help block social mobility for some students by dooming them to placement in low-ability groups, low teacher expectations, and poor academic performance. Teachers have higher expectation for children with the skills and behaviors instilled by a good home environment.
The instructional strategy for the homogenous group in a Spanish class is to create multi-ability level material for the group and also add class work and presentations for the group. The teacher should act like a facilitator instead of transmitter of knowledge.
Learning and Ability Styles
Obviously children who do not speak English, or speak it only as their secondary language, will encounter difficulties in United States schools. Even mathematics achievements can be adversely affected by speaking a language other than English in the home. However, language barriers can be more subtle. English-Speaking students from minority or low-income backgrounds can face language discontinuities in school. In other words, the way their parents question and talk to them does not correspond to that used by most teachers. This mismatch between language used in the home and that demanded in the classroom can cause serious difficulties for some children.
The gap in educational achievement between the White American students and the students of foreign heritage is always there. This gap became narrow during the period of 1970 to 1990, but after 1990 it started widening again. The statistics has revealed that in 1999:
· Only 1 of the 50, 17 years old Hispanic students questioned, can read properly and able to understand the text read
· It has also been noticed that only one fourth or fewer students can read the difficult or complicated text
· Only I in 30 Hispanic students is able to do the mathematical problems easily
· In the age group of 18 to 24 years old students the school graduate rate of Hispanics were 63 percent
· As compared to the white American students only one-third of the Hispanic students were completed their graduate degree
· According to the statistics provided by the Census Bureau of United States in 1998, the number of Mexican students, between the age group of 15 to 29, who has completed some college education is 33 out of 100 students
· Similarly the number of Hispanic students achieved some bachelors degree is 10 out of 100 students (Haycock, 2001)
In order to extract most of the students in a group, there is a need to engage all the students. The teacher must adopt a strategy which must have the following characteristics
· Open Ended
· Multi-Ability based
· Requiring Interdependent Work
Usually some students start dominating in class and in groups; the teacher’s role is ensure that the voice of every student must be heard and each one of them has a role in decision making of the group.
Teachers have to re-examine their role so that they will be more helpful for children from minorities, or from families at risk. It is believed that although both, parents and educators, have to play their parts but still the role of educators are more important. It is suggested that educators must “examine the organizational climate that exists within our schools and the (often covert) messages about involvement that we send to parents" (Knoff & Raffaele, 1999, pg.449).
Learning is the basic activity which enhances the knowledge of student and plays an important role in the cognitive development of the student. Students who face difficulty in a language class ultimately left behind in areas like vocabulary enrichment, mastery in language and enhancement of knowledge. Those who left behind will remain there until some extra intensive attention, teaching and training is given to them which enable them to stand along with their peers.
There is a need to divide the class into homogenous or heterogeneous groups to enhance their class achievement and to improve their learning ability. The report discussed the instructional strategy the teacher must use to improve the learning ability of the students.
Bennett, C. (1986). Comprehensive multicultural education, theory and practice. Boston: Allyn
Blau, Peter & Schwartz, Joseph (1984). Crosscutting Social Circles. Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press.
Cox, B., & Ramirez, M., III (1981). Cognitive styles: Implications for multiethnic education. In
J. Banks (Ed.), Education in the 80's. Washington, DC: National Education Association.