Ethnicity, Social Class and Education

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Hypothesis: Social class determines how “Asian teenagers (aged 15-17) do in GCSE rather than culture. Culture is hard to define and operationalise between different “Asian” groups. In test after test, nationally, Chinese and Indian students show superior performance in mathematics and other subjects compared with their Pakistani, Bangladeshi (also “Asian”) and non-Asian counterparts. In 2003, according to National Statistics, 71% of boys and 79% of girls achieved 5+A*-C GCSE/GNVQs. These statistics were significantly higher than the percentage achieved by the national average which was 46% for boys and 56% for girls. But more importantly, one of the lowest percentages by ethnicity were the Pakistani’s, 36% for boys and 48% for girls; both percentages lower by gender in comparison with the national average and lower by a substantial margin measured up with the Chinese ethnicity. The Indian ethnicity is just behind the Chinese ethnicity as you will see from the graph further on in my project. What made students from such Asian countries to score significantly higher than students from other nations? One may ask what skills, talent, or innate abilities these Asian students possess. As a person of Asian ancestry, I was impressed with these results. This developed a certain interest in me and is the reason why I am studying this topic that links back to the key ideas of Sociology of ethnicity, social class and education. Additionally, this is a considerable issue in contemporary British society. The questions that have to be asked is what strata are contained in an “Asian” community, because I believe that the nurture that different “Asian” teenagers receive is determined by their social class, i.e. working and middle class. The large majority of middle class “Asian” students originate from areas such as India and China. Their class will give these students a significant advantage over working class “Asian” students by supposedly possessing more money that will be prone to lead to more books at home, having a computer, etc…a material and economical advantage that results in a better learning environment, otherwise known as being able to provide a “cultural capital”. However, working class “Asian” students tend not to have those privileges which could lead to “ethnocentrism” in schools, in other words, the materials that are taught in British schools may seem irrelevant to these working class “Asian” students that largely come from Bangladesh or Pakistan. “Cultural capital”, a popular sociological concept by Pierre Bourdieu, and “ethnocentrism” are all important concepts linked to the success in education in the sociology syllabus. Explanations of the relationship between ethnicity and educational attainment can be divided between those that look at the home and background such as cultural advantages and material advantages, and those that look at school factors for instance curriculum labelling. To make the task of proving my hypothesis easier, I have created sub-questions for the study. The sub-questions include: 1.How well do “Asian” students do at GCSE/GNVQs at school? 2.Do school factors affect “Asian” academic achievement? 3.Is “Asian” academic achievement linked to social class?


The Questionnaire: I have chosen a questionnaire as one of the methods to investigate my hypothesis and sub questions. The sample I am going to give out these questionnaires to, are the amount of Asian students in the school registry, a secondary source. The questionnaire is going to consist of questions that are expectantly going to obtain answers about class, gender, age, ethnicity, and most importantly exam results.

The Structured Interview: The second method I am going to use is interviews, which is qualitative. My intention is going to be to interview students from random samples from different subject classes according to the quantitative results of the questionnaire. Questions about attitudes, upbringings...
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