Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere Assess the Sociological Explanations for Ethnic Differences in Educational Success

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There are many reasons for educational underachievement and it has been said that ethnicity is one of these key factors. It has been found that Indian and Asian pupils are of higher educational achievement than White, African-Caribbean, and Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi pupils. One possible cause of ethnic differences in education could be at the fault of the education system. To investigate this Sewell conducted a study using semi-structured interviews and observations in an inner-city boys’ comprehensive school, his study revealed the ways in which African-Caribbean students are labelled by their teachers, peers, white students as ‘problems’ in the classroom. Sewell showed how Black boys use these negative perceptions to construct different responses to school based on their own ‘masculine’ images, many of these belonging the anti-school culture, such as conformists, innovators, rebels and retreatists, all in favour of gang culture. However some sociologists are critical of this study in that they feel Sewell is blaming ‘black-culture’ for the educational failure as opposed to recognising racism within the education system. Another reason for ethnic differences in achievement lies in the school itself. Sociologist Connolly found that teachers are more likely to be overly critical of African-Caribbean pupil’s behaviour due to stereotypical views of their ethnic ways resulting in them being labelled as troublemakers and being in need of stricter discipline. This can therefore lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of the student whereby they become troublesome in a ‘screw-you’ effect to their teachers. However, as criticism to this Sewell found evidence that not every pupil responded with the self-fulfilling prophecy, and in fact some African-Caribbean students adopted ‘White’ values and behaviours at the expense of losing their African-Caribbean stereotypical identities. There are clearly definite suggestions as to why certain ethnic groups are underachieving in...
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