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June 25, 2014

Ethnicity and Learning

12:57 PM

Racial or ethnic minority students also face a number of social obstacles to school success. Minority students often view the payoff of schoolwork as so remote that they do not preserve in their efforts (Power et al., 2003). Even though many students hold positive abstract views about the value of education as a social stepping stone, they tend to base their actual school behaviors on the frustration and failures of their parents. As a result, often students cut classes, get suspended, and eventually drop out (Epstein, 2001). Even if minority students manage to overcome the discouraging signals in their environment, financial difficulties typically lengthen their odds of attending college. One study documents that minority students parents (who are more likely to be single mothers, poorly educated, and financially strapped), simply have fewer resources to support children who want to go to college (Benn, 2011).
Language Barriers
            Obviously children who do not speak English, or speak it only as their secondary language, will encounter difficulties in UK 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.
Knowledge of an official language is increasingly seen as essential to the economic and social integration. Ignorance of the language is the primary source of all academic difficulties that result in academic failure, cultural and social isolation or significant distress. In return, mastery in English is the key to all knowledge. Indeed, in the short term, the language is crucial for the reception and integration of children who do not speak or understand English. In the long term, reading and writing are particularly important for these children, because they help to ensure self-determination, social mobility, their successful integration into society and academic success, as well as offer better economic opportunities in the future.
At school, many minority students do not know how to seize the arrangement of graphic signs to develop meaning. They often spend time to go back frequently or mumble. Many students at the end of primary school have not mastered the basic tools of reading, writing and calculating. For example, they know how to decipher a text, but cannot understand the meanings. By imitation of teaching practice, some students of the primary school as well as some of the third class can read syllables and words by guiding rule or simply their finger. Other frequently return back and make the sub-vocalization, or reproduce the text when they are invited to respond to a question about it then they have previously read.
UK, like other countries, shows a strong link between student performance in mathematics and the language they speak at home. The differences in performance associated with the language spoken at home remain significant even when considering the level of education and occupational status of parents. The first experiences of reading and writing and language socialization at home and in the community determine the academic success (Guofang 2001), hence the importance of early learning to read and practice the writing among children from ethnic minorities, are framed before starting school.
Researchers have identified another disadvantage students can bring with them to school: large family size. Generally speaking, family size correlates negatively with academic success- the larger the family, the lower achievement tends to be– though race, the mother’s age, the presence of other adults in the household, and other factors complicate this picture. The difference may result from children in small families receiving more attention and intellectual stimulation from their parents (Dodd& Konzal, 2000).
The educationists should focus on the dimensions of knowledge and their association to the process of learning from text. Quite glaringly, learning from any text is a process inescapably knotted with knowledge and beliefs. Therefore, the curriculum should introduce students to the array of knowledge and beliefs through text.  Needless to say, the process of learning from text hinges crucially on the genre and structure which students come across in books, discussions, and online on internet. For instance, the curriculum should allow students to deal with the narrative text, those that get across valuable information (i.e., exposition) and also those where are the blend of both in some way (i.e., mixed text).
Psychological Factors
Several studies show the troubled lives of young immigrants who, while facing several challenges adaptation must succeed studies they undertake upon arrival in the country (Christenson, 1995). During their adaptation process, these young people often experience changes in cognitive and emotional order for various reasons: culture shock, lack of experience with the cultural norms and practices, breaking with its language, culture, and community family, lack of role models and mentors, loneliness, etc.
In fact, these difficulties vary according to characteristics such as the age at which they arrive in the host society, that they are not refugees or their knowledge of the language. Culture shock affects more to those who come to UK as a teenager than those arriving younger, they tend to adapt more easily to the social norms of the society. Adolescents often have difficulty making friends, since at this age, their peers already have a well established social network. Refugee children who have witnessed violence in their country of origin, are highly vulnerable to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Effects of Neighborhood
Newcomers find it difficult to meet their basic needs. They often live in neighborhoods where the risk of stalling is present. Youth living a process of acculturation, that is to say readjustment in response to the discontinuity, which causes imbalances (relative to the values, norms, lifestyles and culture in general) that separate from theirs. They should make great efforts to "build a positive cultural identity".
Most deviant behaviors, like other behavior, is learned in intimate setting from our closest associates (Crosswhite & Jenifer, 2009). While the learning mechanisms are the same in both delinquent and non-delinquent settings, the balance of illegitimate and legitimate attitudes determines our behavior. This balance depends on the frequency, duration, intensive of the association (Stark, 2007). A teenager associating often and intimately with peers who define school work as useless, vandalism as acceptable recreation, and violence as a sign of personal integrity will predictably display criminal behaviors. To make matters more difficult, delinquent friends tend to be “sticky”, not easily lost (Stark, 2007).
Immigrants and people of ethnic minorities usually live together in poor areas of the city. Children of ethnic minorities find the transmission of a delinquent subculture nearly irresistible when gangs monopolize the definitions of situations and the allocation of rewards in a neighborhood (Hagedorn, 2008). For example, one adolescent was greatly influenced by gang members because “he spent most of the time in the streets where their attitudes and behavior dominated the scene. Fearful of being rejected by them or of being outright abused and taunted as ‘a sissy’, he conformed to their expectations” and accepted their subculture. Once adolescent with little past delinquency join gangs, their rates of criminality rise significantly.  
Several socioeconomic factors, such as the proportions of people living in households with low incomes, housing requiring major repairs, visible minorities and people without high school education, also influence the rate of violent crime to rise. In contrast, the proportion of new offers immigrants is a downward influence on rates of violent crime, that is to say, it acts as a protective factor. For its part, the rate of crimes against property was also influenced by the rise residential instability, but influenced by the declining sex ratio and the proportion of persons with a university degree. These results are also noted that a number of neighborhood characteristics had little impact on youth crime, but that the level of education, occupation and residential instability were still important.
Some recent studies (Dupéré et al, 2007; Hay et al, 2006,) suggest that, among youth, the influence of neighborhood characteristics was primarily through their interaction with family factors and individual. It has also been noticed that some individual and family characteristics were significant risk factors for delinquency among youth. An approach which would be collected at the neighborhood level data on victimization and self-reported delinquency could be particularly relevant for the analysis of youth crime. The data has also shown that a large proportion of offenders arrested do not live in the neighborhood where they committed their crime. Similarly, it has also been observed that for violent crimes, a median distance of 2.47 km between the place of residence of the alleged scene of the crime and a small number of offenders are responsible for a majority of crimes. However, the data do not establish whether a concentration in one place is the fact that one or a few highly active offenders, or is attributable to several offenders.
In general, people who lack a basic level of material wealth are more likely to engage in such activities which provide them chances to get financially better position. Adverse economic forces may leave individuals feeling powerless, and thus less likely or able to take responsibility for their actions, and such irresponsibility may well contribute to criminal activity. As important as employment is the type of jobs people hold in a neighborhood. When they are mostly unstable, high turnover jobs such as waiters, domestic servants and security guards, the resulting weak ties to the workplace and excess idle time contribute to the development of a delinquent gang subculture. Such workers are also less likely to bond strongly to their job or co-workers. They have less to lose in the event of arrest and thus less reason to conform to the norms of the broader society.
As poverty, the most damaging condition, grips a neighborhood, more children receive their socialization in the streets rather than from the family, and few adults practice in community organizations (Hagedorn, 2008). The gang subculture replaces family, schools, and other approved agents of socialization. Another disorganizing factor, residential mobility, interferes with the development of extensive, local friendship networks (Hagedorn, 2008). In addition, racial and ethnic heterogeneity breed fear, mistrust, defensiveness, and community segmentation – all barriers to the cohesion required for social control. Furthermore, high levels of family disruption decrease neighborhood supervision and guardianship of children and of household property. Social disorganization can also give rise to subcultures of violence, Lower-class, inter-city residents suffering from discrimination and operating in an  isolated, aggressive environment more easily take offense and use force to deal with perceived insults and affronts to their personal honor. Youths in such a threatening neighborhood typically join a gang for protection.
Socialization in such neighborhoods fails to produce four elements of bonding needed to hold deviance in check. First, attachment to conventional others, such as parents, teachers, and conforming peers, forestall deviance. Divorce and desertion hit many homes before children reach adolescence. Moreover, drunken parents, beating, and incest cause a high percentage of the children to run away from home - hardly evidence of attachment. Second, commitment to conventional goals and activities, such as schools, staves off delinquency and crime. Those who have invested time and energy in acquiring an education or establishing a business may avoid deviance because it could cost them their investment. Third, involvement in conventional activities limits the time people have to consider deviant behaviors. The student immersed in studies and work has no time for getting into trouble. Finally, the more those individuals believe in the moral validity of society’s rules, the less likely they are to violate these rules. Such belief in the rules directly reflects a person’s bond to morality, and predicts low deviance levels.
Strategies to cope up with the Problem
Government is fully aware of the above mentioned situation and is desperately trying to close the achievement gap between students belonged to advantaged and disadvantaged families and students belong to the racial minorities. For this purpose government has launched a program to prevent school dropouts and to bridge the gulf between advantaged and socially, economically and culturally disadvantaged students. This Program has three primary goals. First, it disseminate and supports all children to be proficient in two languages; Second, this programs helps to bridge the academic achievement gap of racial minority students and third, it creates harmony and affinity between people of different cultures (Reyes & Trina, 2007). The two possible solutions to prepare the students for success in education are:
·         Homogenous groups
·         Heterogeneous Groups
Homogenous Groups
Homogenous grouping is the placement of students of similar abilities into one group so they can concentrate on their weaknesses and get benefit from each other’s strengths on certain areas. Homogenous grouping is considered as the best way of teaching. Slow students in homogenous grouping get better results and their abilities and achievements have improved. Homogenous grouping has been blamed on the basis that any student who is placed in a particular homogenous group will remain there throughout their educational career. Nevertheless, result of a study revealed that when the average intelligence of members of all homogenous groups is tested, no significant difference was found.
Heterogeneous Groups
Heterogeneous grouping is such type of grouping in which students of varying abilities, cultures and languages are grouped together in order to learn in a cooperative learning environment. Other factors which affect the learning of the class is the varying degree of previous learning of the students, their culture, religion, sex etc. (Guglielmino & Burrichter, 1987). Although people are skeptic about the success of Heterogeneous grouping, Way (1981) suggested that factors like age does not affect the achievement of the group. Spear (1992) who has done profound research on Heterogeneous grouping concluded that, “Common sense dictates that effective grouping practices should be centered around the notion of flexibility” (p. 263). He further stated that, “it is vitally important that we do not continue to separate, but that we bring together-into one community- individual strengths to ensure that our schools function at their highest level” (p. 272).
Conclusion
Teachers are generally quite accurate in predicting which solutions will succeed in school, but are such prophecies self-fulfilling? What determines which students will enjoy the powerful effect of high teacher expectation?  The answer, according to many school critics, is the child’s home environment. Instead of acting like the ‘great equalizer’, schools actually magnify the advantages or disadvantages children bring into the classroom from home. 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.
            Another explanation for the inequalities in British Education system lies in the school’s differential treatment for students. Teachers, for example, have higher expectation for children with the skills and behaviors instilled by a good home environment.  Efforts to reform British Schools have taken several forms; perhaps most importantly, empowering parents, including home schooling, more parental participation in the school.

It is therefore important that the process and the entire construction and framework of educational institutes of the country must be molded in a way through which they can contribute towards the development and progress of the whole society. In order to fulfill this objective it is important to initiate the process from the very beginning which is in the form of high school education in which students are enrolled in.  Good home-school collaboration is necessary for better results of students.

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