Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence
Sociological Foundations Supporting the Study of Cultural diversity
- Author(s): Mehan, Hugh
- et al.
In order to understand thee barriers to educational equality faced by lw-income cultural and linguistic minority youth, we need to undertand the ways in which social class an dethnicity interact with language and culture. This paper examines various aspects of te relationship between students' cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgound and thier unequal access to educational opportunities.
Cultural capitial. Familiets that occupy differen places in society deploy different resources in school. The school rewards the language and socialization practices of upper- and middle-income families while systematically devaluing those of low-income families.
Classroom discourse. Students who enter school from linguistic and ethnic minority families often have had no experience at home with the special features of classroom discourse. This presents them with a special challenge; thier academic success depends on thier acquiring this special code.
School sorting practices. Students from low-income and linguistic minority backgrounds are often placed in low-ability groups and slow (general or vocational education) academic tracks, where they do not receive the same quantity or quality of instruction as students in high-ability groups or college bound tracks.
Educatiors and researchers are calling for change. Any attempts at cuuricular innovation, however, mut take into account the "culture of the school." The history of educational reform shows that attempts to change schools from the top down have met with resistance form educaitonal practitioners. To be successful, innovations must take the everyday working life of teachers into consideration. This means relationship between old practices and new ideas.