Examining the Impact of Culture on Academic Performance

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Importantly distinguishing discontinuities that happen between home/community, and school, in relation to children’s education is crucial in a technological age of flux. It is vital, that disconnections of intellectualities and qualities of mind and character that separate individuals who are deemed ‘advantaged’ to those that are labelled ‘disadvantaged’ are illuminated and understood. In understanding some of the complex reasons in how people become educationally disadvantaged and in recognising differences that exist, both, positive and negative, within the area of education, can help in lessening such disadvantage. This essay attempts to explore some of the reasons behind these disconnections between the home/community and school in relation to individuals achieving higher education levels. Having done this, areas that can contribute to individuals achieving acceptable education will be outlined, with examples of how to make education more equal for everyone. This essay will take a radical equality view on education believing that distribution of wealth and power should be equal.

Exploring disadvantage

Education is usually a good indicator of future life, hence the importance of understanding disadvantage in education as a means of bridging the gap between different groups in society. Considering disadvantage, one has to ask how is it that some individuals are disadvantaged, and what are the factors that contribute to them becoming disadvantaged. While there is myriad of reasons why one might be educationally disadvantaged, some of which will be discussed in this text, there are however two main areas where education plays a pivotal role, they are home/community and in school. The author maintains that there is a disconnect between these two areas, that sadly, allows children to become educationally disadvantaged. Most disadvantage in education it could be argued can be traced back to the home. Many sociologists and psychologists tell us that early years in a child’s life (0-6) are a crucial time for social, emotional and intellectual development. Furthermore many circumstances in an individual’s life can contribute to their disadvantage such as social, cultural and economic capital. This “educational disadvantage can become apparent at school through low attainment, satisfaction and self-esteem; lack of participation; truancy; school refusal; dropout; behaviour problems; and delinquency” (Connolly, 2007, p.379). That being said responsibility for discontinuities between home and school, rest also with institutions such as school and other agencies directly related to providing adequate assistance for individuals experiencing disadvantage. It could be argued that the kernel of educational disadvantage in Ireland is equality, and the neo- liberal mind-set connected with it. Lynch and O’Neill (1999) hint that this ideology treats education as a product rather than a process, and that “the absence of a working class perspective has resulted in policies designed to manage rather than eliminate inequality in education” (Ibid, p.41). Furthermore the ‘institutionalisation of competitiveness’ that seems to accompany neo- liberalism can further isolate disadvantaged people and may cause anomie. Similarly in the education system, Lynch (1989) argues, that an atmosphere of “Competitive Individualism” in schools goes against our Christian values of helping one another. There would seem to be some progress in discourse in relation to educational disadvantage in recent decades. Kellaghan et al (1993) maintains that the old deficit model of intervention for disadvantage, aimed at parents was limited, in that it failed to recognise discontinuities between home and school, believing one model could ameliorate disadvantage. They also highlight that a ‘cultural difference model’ in the 1970s finally recognised differences between cultures experienced at home, to that at school, and realised that the school environment was not...
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