Explaining Educational Inequalities Explaining Educational Inequalities “Education is not received. It is achieved”. Indeed, when Albert Einstein said these words, he was very likely to be in favor of the ideal that academic success is based on how well the individual performs, and is a factor that is not dependent on external influences…
Antoine defines this phenomena as “a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status, social class, and social circle.” (THE INEQUALITY PROJECT). Such social stratification is known to exist in the form of income groups and cultural backgrounds. Research and case studies provide further evidence to the sociologist’s claim that social class has an impact on educational opportunity. The disadvantage that a student faces as compared to other students can be explained as an extension of the disadvantages he or she may face as a result of belonging to a certain social group. Thus, a strong positive relationship can be drawn between social class and educational opportunity – the higher the social class is, the higher the quality of education achieved, and vice versa. Based on credible research and scholarly work, educational inequalities can be explained through the social economic and cultural background of the individual, making the attainment of education a process highly influenced by social factors. To understand educational inequality, it is important to first look into the factors that cause such inequalities to exist in the first place. Sociologists identify three main influences in this respect, namely, the income, gender and ethnicity group an individual belongs to. The correlation between poor income households and poor education has been proven through multiple researches. A Research report by Michael Holzman titled “A Rotting Apple” focuses on educational inequalities in New York City. It reveals that districts with high rates of poverty have a generally low quality of education, with teachers that are less experienced and schools having limited access to resources such as computers and internet as compared to schools in high income localities (SCHOTT FOUNDATION, 2012). This may be explained by the fact that households belonging to low income strata of the society may be not be able to afford sending their children to schools that offer better education with skilled teachers. As a result, the children in these low income area schools, when compared to those from high income areas, achieve less academic success. This supports the point that educational inequality is caused by differences in the income levels of the household the students belong to. Another factor that influences educational inequality is the cultural advantage students for middle class households have as compared to those from working class families. Basil Bernstein explains how children from varying backgrounds develop different codes, or forms of speech, during their early lives, which affect their subsequent school experience.” (GIDDENS, 1996) Bernstein classified the speech of working class families and middle class families as represented by a restricted code and elaborated code respectively. Working class parents are most likely to instruct or explain values and lessons to their children using the minimum of words, and assuming that certain things are understood. On the other hand, middle class parents are most likely to explain and instruct their children by giving them elaborate explanations and reasons about why something is good or bad (BERNSTEIN,1977). In schools, teachers use the elaborated ...
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