Mar 25, 2012 - Weekly Reflection    1 Comment

Week 10:Social Class, Race, and School Achievement

Despite the obstacles that working class students face at home, whether the obstacle is hereditary or environmental, each student deserves a chance to be successful in the classroom.  The classroom environment is the place where each student can thrive without fear of obstacles that contribute to low-achievement (Gutek, Levine & Ornstein, 2011).

Undoubtedly, effective grouping can contribute to the achievement level of every student.  Instead of underestimating the ability of a student, I would encourage randomly assigning small heterogeneous groups to avoid ethnic or gender based peers groups, and to facilitate social interaction and brainstorming (Woolfolk, 2010).  By gathering information from each other, students are working in an unstructured social environment and engaging in cooperative learning (Woolfolk, 2010). Following this further,  students are susceptible to forming discriminating groups, so random assignment will ensure equity and promote a multicultural environment (Woolfolk, 2010). Random selection provides an opportunity for students to interact with peers and gain a greater understanding and appreciation for various ethnicities and languages (Woolfolk, 2010). For instance, grouping students whose first language is not English with a peer that is a native English speaker will encourage a student to develop competency in the English language and develop a better understanding of content (Woolfolk, 2010).

The ability to group students accordingly will take time and dedication, as well as the  proper facilitation of formative and summative assessments.  By including all students into the classroom, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, language acquisition and socioeconomic status, academic and social growth is achievable. Lessons that include diversity promote a multicultural classroom and also help teachers learn more about their students’ backgrounds (Aguilar, 2010).  By including each student, everyone develops a purpose, gives respect to others students and connects their contribution to the classroom and the community.

Concentrating on race for a moment, I was reminded of the VACAN conference I attended in Charlottesville this past February.  A lecture was presented about the issues regarding The Education Crisis Facing Young Men of Color by College Board (2010).  It is evident that more women are graduating from high school and attaining college degrees, while more men of color are dropping out of high school, being incarcerated , joining the armed forces and even death.  This truly is a crisis.  I would recommend reading the literature, because what was found to be the most effective way to reduce such staggering statistics, is to mentor young men or color.  As we read in our text, poverty also plays a huge role in holding student back from being successful, primarily because they lack support from the family.  Instead of encouraging adolescents to seek education and physically move out of poverty, family members depend on the children for financial support and discourage a students efforts to attend school.

 

References

The crisis facing young men of color reflections on four days of dialogue on the educational challenges of minority males. (2010). Retrieved from http://advocacy.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/educational-crisis-facing-young-men-of-color.pdf

Aguilar, E. (2010). Teaching Secrets: When the Kids Don’t Share Your Culture. The Education Digest, 76(4), 52-4.

Gutek, G., Levine, D. & Ornstein, A. (2011). Foundations of Education, 11th Edition. CA: Wadsworth.

Woolfolk, A. (2010) Educational Psychology (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Educational International.

 

1 Comment

  • Personally, I like the idea of random grouping. It removes any unconscious bias that may be present, and can be used experimentally. After so many random groupings, trends of students that work well with each other, and don’t, will become apparent. More tools for your utility belt! If particular students are struggling, they are given more opportunities being randomly assigned parters instead of causing more personal stress, on the teacher, trying to “find” that magic person, wasting (precious) classroom time.

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