Ethnicity and Race are significant problems in education

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There are many points to be discussed when referring to race and ethnicity in education, some of the points are in favour of ethnics and minority groups in education, whereas some points are against the idea. In this essay, I will present my points for both in favour and against, followed by examples and evidence in our everyday lives.

One of the points for the idea of ethnic minorities in education is eliminating racism from schools and bringing children up in a multi-cultural environment. For example, 30-40-years ago, back when my parents were studying in the UK, I know my dad was one of the three people who wore a turban in the whole school, later on this became two people, as he was picked on which then pressured him into cutting his hair. However, in today's day and age there are obviously more ethnic minority groups in schools which therefore, gives more support and encouragement to other ethnic minority groups. So having multiracial groups whether they are students or teachers, has had a huge impact on Asians in particular as it had made them to be proud of who they are as well as not giving into peer pressure. On the other hand this could also bring in negative encouragement as it could result in strong forces in-society or group ties. This could also apply to a functionalism view where they think that an individual transmits values and beliefs, where these are essential components of social make up and can lead into the conflict perspective as groups in society are engaged in continuous power struggle for control of limited resources.

Accents have proven to be a large obstacle with regards to ethnic minorities in education, whether it is understanding both teacher's and a student's accent. As we are all aware, communication is a vital skill nowadays. It is not only essential in learning but also essential in maintain relationships. A difference in accents could cause a great level of misunderstanding and the ability to learn at a much slower pace compared to other students, hence hindering a student's ability to learn from a teachers point of view, it will be difficult and very time consuming for his/her students to understand what is being taught. This could also result in the teacher and/or students losing patience as well as confidence.

However, contrary to that, there are many examples of some well-established people in the ethnic minorities who have made a difference to people's lives, as well as also making remarkable changes to the world. This highlights another point in favour of having ethnic minorities involved in education. For example Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, both preached non violence, civil rights and equality. Although these people were not directly involved in education, they did have a part to play as they were preachers and taught well-being, which shows that they are teachers in educating people how to live.

Schools have started to teach about other religions and other races, which mean that people now have a better idea and understanding of different ethnic backgrounds. This has caused peace and friendship between races at school which has resulted in less communication, less racial cause and violence in schools. There are school sports teams which encourage all students of all backgrounds to take part in, showing equality and they are all given chances to participate and represent their schools not based on their colour or background, but based on their individual talents, so extra curriculum activities are useful and also promote ethnic minorities. Some schools and colleges have now also built prayer rooms to accommodate people of the Muslim faith. This results in education and society becoming multicultural, accepting people of all faiths. This idea has a strong element of social construction, supporting an interactionist view as society is created through the interactions of individuals and groups, where individuals share interpret their experiences which this influences others actions.

School's have been teaching students about other religious festivals in other religions e.g. Diwali and Eid to the extent, some schools bring in special guest speakers from the respective religions to get a full detailed, descriptive and an accurate overview of their festivals once again promoting multi-cultural views in education.

As we discussed earlier with regards to accents, a lot is actually stereotypical. For example we 'see' an individual from the ethnic minority and automatically assume what his speech is like, what his intelligence is like. However as we have just discovered, 2 of the world's greatest leaders have been of ethnic origins and their accent or them being stereotyped did not prevent them from achieving what they have achieved till date. For instance, Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister in England; people thought that just because she was a woman, she could not succeed which they assumed. Again, same with Barack Obama the first African American president, people assumed the same. Individuals did not know these people or even heard of them, but they still made their judgments and assumptions. Now, we have female professionals, Black leaders and also Asian entrepreneurs where each of them are successful which leads me on to quote in my opinion that there is no such thing as sexism or racism anymore. Furthermore, the idea of meritocracy could also support this as it theoretically anchors in equality and fairness to fulfil achieved status in society. This is expressed through the belief that there is 'a level playing field' and with the intention of those that achieve the best, deserve the best jobs.

Class and educational performance show a very close relationship, this has been the issue during the 20th century regardless of how the education system has been structured. Students from upper and middle class backgrounds are considerably expected to go into higher education than those from the working class backgrounds. This is because some working class parents do not accentuate education as a priority to do well in life compared to upper or middle class parents. This could possibly be the reason why the working class underachieve and be put into lower groups. A known theorist Bourdieu [1] specified that middle class people are those that benefit as they have the correct cultural capital, passing on culture and the right attitudes and knowledge to their children, which shows that the more the cultural capital you have, the successful you are within education. Marxism could go against the idea of Bourdieu's cultural capital, as Marxist believe that the education system is cruel to the working class due to the fact that text books, and essentials for schools are only bought by upper and middles classes as working class cannot afford them resulting that the working class will not learn. Another factor which affects social class is labelling. Teachers label students according to their appearance, verbal communication and social class. From this teachers are more likely to judge a student and fit them into criteria covertly.

Education has encountered race and ethnicity problems for several years. The continuous educational issues involving race and ethnicity of all schools will always cause controversy in society, as there is always prejudice and abhorrence.

The use of the two terms 'race' and 'ethnicity' is diverse. I think the two terms are misused as if they are equal. I also agree that 'race is not now, nor has it ever been, simply about the physical description of human variation. Since its origin in Western science in the eighteenth century, race has been used both to classify and to rank human beings according to inferior and superior types' [2] .

Ethnicity is a group of people who are connected with each other through a common heritage for e.g. maybe through language, culture or an ideology that emphasises ancestry or endogamy. Consequently, these groups of people are distinguished from other groups through forms such as racial, linguistic, economic, religious and political matters.

Racial tension and discrimination became more apparent towards the end of the 20th century. This evoked significant concerns, especially in schools. Schools, for some are the last stop for societal integration and for others they it is the simplistic answer in diminishing racism and gaining sociability between Whites and minority groups in society.

Many argue that it is unreasonable to situate the responsibility for overcoming racism on the schools, particularly when other institutions have not accomplished in encouraging better race relations. Nevertheless, schools do have the capability to make an important participation to the improvement of racial pressure in society. Students spend a major fraction of their lives in school until they reach young adulthood. School awareness takes place at a point in students' lives when they are most open to socialisation, attitude behaviour, character progression and new experiences. While attendance at school is mandatory, some students are not entertained by school life. Even though schools may not be able to contradict the racism that exists in society entirely, they do have the chance and opportunity to consistently support and also encourage affirmative social relations towards students from all racial ethnic groups. I think that for schools to help sociability and racial integration educators ought to be aware about the restrictions and chances school policies and practises enforce on students about social relationships. For teachers and administrators their main aim is to give academic achievement for students, but their practices and policies they implement to attain their academic aims can also affect the possibility that students have multiracial interactions and form multiracial friendships.

It has been shown by sociological research, every process of interpersonal attractions conducted by the social descriptions of the background in which the connections occur. Abolished school shows mainly an accurate context. These schools have said to have an ethnic and racial composition, disclosing mostly the general population. Furthermore, there is not a clear or a precise definition of desegregated schools. [3] 

On a daily basis many children have to deal with special needs. Nevertheless, not only multiracial children have to manage with the common problems of childhood and family circumstances, they also have to deal with a situation of identity. It has been said that pupils that are ethnic minority are further expected to come across racism from other pupils and from people who are part of a group of the broader society than from teachers. By any means these experiences of racism could aggravate necessary disappointment and anger from some ethnic minority students, which teachers must be answered with punishment processes, probably involving student's exclusion. In this aspect teachers are acting in answer to a situation for which they are not responsible for themselves.

I think that there is the slightest possibility that some schools may perhaps are now more aware of equality of opportunities problems and that they have developed and introduced policies in order to raise equality of opportunities for both ethnic minority students and females.

There are diverse representations for school students from different minority ethnic groups. Asian backgrounds (Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani) are usually defined by the languages they speak and for that reason are seen as an intimidation, socially as well as academically to white children [4] .

Asian and black children were not gaining the chances and advantages from the British education system that most parents hoped for in the early 1970's [5] .

I think that the concern for students of Asian origin has fluctuated in some ways compared to black students, for example they have gained a positive stereotype as 'perfect students'. Ethnic minorities are expected to belong to socio-economic groups; this will therefore increase their educational weakness. In 1996 Gillborn and Gipps [6] conducted a summary of the literature on the academic attainment of minority ethnic group students and resulted that Pakistani and Bangladeshi students, in addition to African-Caribbean origin were lacking in achievement in relation to their white peers. However, on the other hand Indian students appeared to have shown progression and performed well compared to their peers.

% showing GCSE achievement five or more higher grade passes [7] 

Both educational progress and achievements are not the same. It is likely for a number of groups to make good improvements and yet still accomplish lower standard achievements. The belief of the school is important but social background is of much larger importance. On the other hand little evidence for different school influences for ethnic minorities. This suggests that same schools are mainly effective for ethnic minority students.

An escalating quantity of research has determined on classrooms and pupil-teacher interactions. The results frequently raise essential questions regarding the way in which students are understanding and experiencing schooling.

It was not until 2003 that the government first published statistics showing GCSE pass-rates across different ethnic groups. Statistics show that Indian, Chinese, and African-Asian pupils consistently have higher levels of achievement than other ethnic groups across all the Key Stages. In contrast, Black, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Gypsy/traveller pupils consistently have lower levels of attainment than other ethnic groups across all the Key Stages. It is vital to recognise that there is major individual differentiation in achievement within each group. Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean students will do extremely well and several Chinese students will not succeed.

Still, authorised results were published in November 2007 showing that Black students were concluding the educational gap at GCSE. The statistics of Black Caribbean students attaining five reasonable GCSEs has revealed approximately twice the national raise, signifying that the gap has lessened by 8% points within four years. A point to make about the contemporary education system is that the least achieving group in terms of gaining five A*-C grades at GCSE is white working-class boys.

I think that if majority of Black students are below succeeding then it certain questions regarding the education system. Institutionally, is the education system racist?

According to research I think that good and reasonable practise in early years of education should attach teaching with cultural and community, also personal values to form a 'shared learning encounter' between the teacher and the parents of a student in order to certify top outcomes for all students.

Personally, the 'race concern' cannot be dealt within a single area. The education system alone cannot give all the answers, even though it does have the chance and the responsibility to make vital involvement towards the formation of a better society.

Again, education in other countries, e.g. Africa or India is more important for the student to break out of poverty where the only way forward is education which will give them skills to better them and eventually make a difference. However, here in UK, I feel that students take advantage of education as it is compulsory and do not appreciate it.

Racism is considered as a 'permanent fixture [8] ' of society, consequently signifying that racism is always an important factor within the debate and obviously there it is not required to make comprehensible that it continues. The critical race theory as a result seeks to represent and question racism in its different forms. The critical race theory is a way of looking at race relations, especially in the USA, in a extensive context compared to the conventional civil rights. Its purpose is to convey uncertainty towards liberal ideas of objectivity or colour-blindness and come up to testing race matters which, it claims it can still strengthen Whites' reaction.

As you can see, many points have been detailed above in relation to race and ethnicity in education, both for and against. After careful consideration and analysis, I believe it is better for there to be other races and ethnic minorities involved in education today. It can be seen that points 'against' are easily overcome and are hence negligible in comparison to the points 'for'. The fact that we have evidence that proves having a multicultural environment in schools is better for people's confidence and to enabling them to stick to their cultural beliefs, is a definite reason to support my opinion, and goes hand-in-hand with what the great leaders such as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi taught and lived for.

Possible ways of how we can improve the 'race and ethnicity situation' in education is by encouraging and enabling involvement of ethnics in education. This will allow making an improvement to the world and peoples' as well as students lives, last but not least it will improve the quality of education overall. Again, we have seen how big reputable leaders such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King have had a huge presence in the education and civil rights areas, and by using them as idols and examples, we can encourage more ethnic minority groups to step up and makes changes for the better, showing equality amongst races.

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