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Online Focus Group: Black Students in British Education watch

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    (Original post by Jools)
    True, I think the influence of role models is under-rated. Any ideas who I should try to get in touch with for their comments? I'm thinking Dizzee Rascall and CBBC people (Andi Peters & Dave Benson Phillips).
    You could get in touch with some Afro-American academics and ask them whether the (very dramatic) rise of their community within American society (both in terms of prominent black academics and the rise to prominene and respectability of "Afro-American Studies") has had an effect in the US.
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    Is there any way of finding out unauthorised attendance rates for different races (probably not!)? It might be a good way at looking at different attitudes to actually going to school.

    Just a suggestion.
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    (Original post by blissy)
    Is there any way of finding out unauthorised attendance rates for different races (probably not!)? It might be a good way at looking at different attitudes to actually going to school.

    Just a suggestion.
    you probably need permission to look at such data
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    (Original post by Jools)
    So the topic of criminality has come up - Moss Side has a nationally notorious for social deprivation, and you suggest the area has a high black population. The Afro-Caribbean race in UK is stereotyped and stigmatised as having a much greater proportion of criminals, and the prison statistic previously mentioned may support this. So why's this the case? Linked again to poor socio-economic background, or is race a fundamental part of the equation?
    It is a vicious circle, poor socio-economics leads to a higher crime rate, generally good teachers don't want to live in a high crime-rate area so the schools are poor. Poor education leads to fewer oportunities hence people living there have less chance of 'getting out' so many people turn to crime to fund their lifestyle. A big question is why do blacks generally live in poorer areas? Is this a legacy of immigration even though often there have been 2 (or more) generations since immigration? If so why are the patterns for Asians markedly different? Is this down to a greater sense of 'community' or co-operation between Asians? Alternatively, contraversally, do blacks live in poorer areas because that is where they've gravitated to because they're naturally less able to cope in a modern economy where intellect is the most valuable comodity? The nature vs. nurture debate is extremely difficult to de-convolve, it's true the genetic differences between the races are tiny, but its been shown many, many times that tiny genetic differences can cause massive differences in performance (an autistic person is only a tiny genetic step away from being perfectly normal, an olympic athlete is only a tiny genetic step away from being a couch potato, a chimp shares 98% of its DNA with humans). If you're going to look at whether there is any evidence that blacks are naturally (or genetically) less academically able you'll have to look at other countries. Is the order of performance of the races constant from Britain, to America, to South Africa, to Australia, to India, to Japan, to China, to Brazil, to Namibia, to France, to Mexico, to Holand, to Indonesia, to Morrocco? I don't know the answer, but if the answer is 'yes, in all these countries, the order is the same', then you may well conclude there is something inherent rather than cultural.
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    (Original post by Fly By)
    you probably need permission to look at such data
    You can get permission to look at quite a lot of things if you can prove it is for academic purposes.
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    Zizero makes another brilliant point, which could explain a lot of the problem - that black students are unable to relate to a 'white' education system in Britain. The example of a History syllabus is an example of this - whether at GCSE, A-Level or degree level, there's criticism that it focuses too much on 'white' history.
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    (Original post by H&E)
    You can get permission to look at quite a lot of things if you can prove it is for academic purposes.
    Exactly. It might be an interesting piece of data to get hold of - if you're not going to school you will obviously not do as well. Depending on results (which I cannot predict at all) you could see whether there was a problem with encouraging black males to go to school and possible attitude towards schooling.
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    (Original post by Jools)
    I doubt a school's going to publish unauthorised absence rates by ethnicity!

    Zizero makes another brilliant point, which could explain a lot of the problem - that black students are unable to relate to a 'white' education system in Britain. The example of a History syllabus is an example of this - whether at GCSE, A-Level or degree level, there's criticism that it focuses too much on 'white' history.
    True. What can I remember of black history at school? Slavery and something to do with an African Association around prohibition america times. But then, we don't particularly learn about indian/japanese/chinese culture either.
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    (Original post by davey_boy)
    It is a vicious circle, poor socio-economics leads to a higher crime rate, generally good teachers don't want to live in a high crime-rate area so the schools are poor. Poor education leads to fewer oportunities hence people living there have less chance of 'getting out' so many people turn to crime to fund their lifestyle. A big question is why do blacks generally live in poorer areas? Is this a legacy of immigration even though often there have been 2 (or more) generations since immigration? If so why are the patterns for Asians markedly different? Is this down to a greater sense of 'community' or co-operation between Asians? Alternatively, contraversally, do blacks live in poorer areas because that is where they've gravitated to because they're naturally less able to cope in a modern economy where intellect is the most valuable comodity? The nature vs. nurture debate is extremely difficult to de-convolve, it's true the genetic differences between the races are tiny, but its been shown many, many times that tiny genetic differences can cause massive differences in performance (an autistic person is only a tiny genetic step away from being perfectly normal, an olympic athlete is only a tiny genetic step away from being a couch potato, a chimp shares 98% of its DNA with humans). If you're going to look at whether there is any evidence that blacks are naturally (or genetically) less academically able you'll have to look at other countries. Is the order of performance of the races constant from Britain, to America, to South Africa, to Australia, to India, to Japan, to China, to Brazil, to Namibia, to France, to Mexico, to Holand, to Indonesia, to Morrocco? I don't know the answer, but if the answer is 'yes, in all these countries, the order is the same', then you may well conclude there is something inherent rather than cultural.
    Excellent post! Though, even if you identify something inherent, has that solved your problem? The differences here are very substantial. Proving that in some capacity blacks are less well suited to academic study still leaves you a very long way short of explaining why 27 of 20,000 achieve AAA, or why I could use my fingers to count the number of blacks with a 1st from Cambridge during an entire decade.

    (for the sake of comparison, the difference between the fastest ever white man and fastest ever black man is 2%.)
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    is it becoz I iz black?
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    (Original post by blissy)
    True. What can I remember of black history at school? Slavery and something to do with an African Association around prohibition america times. But then, we don't particularly learn about indian/japanese/chinese culture either.
    Which could explain why you hardly get any Indians or Orientals studying History at degree level - it's a lot more common for them to study science/maths based subjects.

    I just spoke to my Sri Lankan housemate who studies History here... apparently university courses in history are very diverse across the UK, and allow plenty of scope to do what you want - e.g. study China, India, South America... though GCSE and A-Level is a lot more Euro-centric, though this is understandable in a British country.
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    (Original post by Fly By)
    is it becoz I iz black?
    Ha, the title of my dissertation is "Is is 'cos I is black, Sir?"
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    (Original post by Jools)
    I just spoke to my Sri Lankan housemate who studies History here... apparently university courses in history are very diverse across the UK, and allow plenty of scope to do what you want - e.g. study China, India, South America... though GCSE and A-Level is a lot more Euro-centric, though this is understandable in a British country.
    This is from my old school's 2002 Ofsted report:


    I assume this isn't the norm?
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    (Original post by Jools)
    So why is there such a disparity? Less opportunity due to background? Different social and cultural attitudes to education? Or something else...?
    I attend (well, technically did attend) a very low achieving FE college. The average A level grade attained is somewhere between a D and E. There is much ethnic diversity, perhaps 40% White, 30% Afro-Caribbean, 30% Other (mainly Asian). The majority of all races are working class.

    I'll try and spare you my half-baked general analysis of this issue (which would be largely based on snippets of A level Sociology), and simply tell you my interpretation of my personal experiences.

    One of the first things I noticed when I came to this college was the almost voluntary apartheid in place. There were two main seating/cafe areas, split almost without exception between Afro-Caribbean in one, and White/Asian/Black-African in the other. Walk into any classroom and you would likely find one "A-C" corner or row. Now, the question is why this comes about, and whether it is relevant to differential levels of attainment. In 2 years at this college, I have never once encountered outward racism. Yet, there is a definite tension...for a non A-C to sit in "their" area would definitely attract quizzical glances. Personally, on the occasions when I have crossed the divide I think my feeling of unease partially comes from that, and partially from inside myself. But does this divide explain lesser attainment by A-C boys? I don't think so. Rather, I think this and the poor performance are both symptoms of a common cause. Both come from a rejection of the dominant culture (if you can call it that). A rejection of the culture of people of other races their own age (there's a definite cultural split along the previously described lines), and a definite rejection of the notion of achievement typified by teachers and lecturers. I could attempt to postulate reasons for the development of this subculture, but that would be getting into the A level Sociology territory I was trying to avoid. What I can tell you is that in my experience, it is definitely there.

    This isn't to downplay the role of class background. Indeed, I would venture that it is by far the biggest determiner of academic achievement. You just have to look around here to see people with money worries that at best have an effect on performance and at worst mean they have to drop out, with parents without the know-how to get their children into good schools etc... all these things, whilst not specific to A-C students, have a large effect IMO. However, it should of course be noted that in as much as A-C girls outperform A-C boys, and in as much as other working class students outperform A-C w/c boys, you would struggle to put that down to class/background factors. Furthermore, whilst what I described above may count as "cultural" factors, in my experience this is a particular culture developed by A-C children/teenagers (particularly boys). Afro-Caribbean parents are typically vehemently pro-education and I know there are specific Saturday schools in London for the A-C community. It is also not unheard of for A-C parents to send their children back to the Caribbean to be educated because they believe the UK system to be too liberal.

    But, for the boys at least, the commitment of the parents tend not to be enough. Out of 500 odd A level students here, 8 applied to Oxbridge. Out of these, 6 could reasonably be deemed white and middle class. The other two were Black-African. In the college as a whole, there are almost as many Afro-Caribbean students as there are white ones.

    So, the question is, what other factor, specific to Afro-Caribbean boys, not related to background or class (or indeed race, given the performance of African students), affects their attainment? I do very much believe in the subculture thesis. Once you've left school, it is very easy to forget quite how suffocating peer pressure can be; how easy it is to comply, and how hard it is to deviate. That is only going to be made harder by the fact that, when you enter school, it seems that your peer group has been determined for you at birth.
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    (Original post by H&E)
    Excellent post! Though, even if you identify something inherent, has that solved your problem? The differences here are very substantial. Proving that in some capacity blacks are less well suited to academic study still leaves you a very long way short of explaining why 27 of 20,000 achieve AAA, or why I could use my fingers to count the number of blacks with a 1st from Cambridge during an entire decade.

    (for the sake of comparison, the difference between the fastest ever white man and fastest ever black man is 2%.)
    No, you're right it doesn't solve 'the problem'. However if, in a trawl through the different countries and cultures, you find an anomolously well performing race somewhere in the world you could then attempt to identify why this happens there. Are teaching methods in China more suited to blacks? Or are the social structures of Japan seemingly helpful to whites while hindering Asians studying there? These links might not exist obviously but if they do it would be very useful to know.
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    (Original post by blissy)
    This is from my old school's 2002 Ofsted report:


    I assume this isn't the norm?
    Bloody hell (excuse my swearing) at my school it was more like

    Out of 600

    British White - 200
    Idian - 70
    Pakastani - 100
    British Black - 300
    Chinesee - 100

    etc etc. White people were actually the ethnic minority, the I find it so hard to believe these schools still exist in this country. I guess my school was unusualy the other way round though.
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    (Original post by blissy)
    This is from my old school's 2002 Ofsted report:

    I assume this isn't the norm?
    That's so interesting... though you can't really analyse the fact that no minorities were excluded when the school was 98.7% white.
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    (Original post by davey_boy)
    No, you're right it doesn't solve 'the problem'. However if, in a trawl through the different countries and cultures, you find an anomolously well performing race somewhere in the world you could then attempt to identify why this happens there. Are teaching methods in China more suited to blacks? Or are the social structures of Japan seemingly helpful to whites while hindering Asians studying there? These links might not exist obviously but if they do it would be very useful to know.
    More importantly, they could see you extract vast travel grants from the college on distant research trips
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    (Original post by davey_boy)
    No, you're right it doesn't solve 'the problem'. However if, in a trawl through the different countries and cultures, you find an anomolously well performing race somewhere in the world you could then attempt to identify why this happens there. Are teaching methods in China more suited to blacks? Or are the social structures of Japan seemingly helpful to whites while hindering Asians studying there? These links might not exist obviously but if they do it would be very useful to know.
    Culture is an inherent part to learning. There are bright people I've met who could obviously do well at exams, but lack the motivation to study and revise. I suspect this links to your parent's expectations of you. I know a child passionate about a subject will work at it despite parental influences, but for the average child, if your parents installed a belief into you early that education was imporant, then you will want to succeed.

    I know in china, my relatives believe it is important to succeed, for themselves and also so their parents can be proud of them. The culture that exists there is one of working hard, so many children do well.
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    (Original post by Jools)
    That's so interesting... though you can't really analyse the fact that no minorities were excluded when the school was 98.7% white.
    Our school has been in trouble from Ofsted for it, but it's just that the Westcountry has so few ethnic minorities. When I came to Cambridge (which I know is also very white dominated) someone laughed at me when I said "I've never seen so many black people in my life!" (in all innocence!)

    What I'm trying to get across is that although we most probably aren't teaching enough black history in general, how could we also justify whole chunks of it when some schools have only ONE person of mixed race? It's difficult.
 
 
 
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