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Dr. John Ogbu. Nigerian-American Anthropologist Major figure in the application of anthropological theories and methods to problems related to minority education in the United States and abroad.

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Dr. John Ogbu

  • Nigerian-American Anthropologist

  • Major figure in the application of anthropological theories and methods to problems related to minority education in the United States and abroad.

  • Named one of “four intellectual giants of the 20th century” by Eminent Educators: Studies in Intellectual Influence


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Background and Schooling

  • Born in 1939

  • Umudomi, Nigeria

  • Schooling

    • Hope Waddell Training Institute

    • Methodist Teacher’s Training College

    • Princeton University Theological Seminary

    • University of California, Berkeley

    • Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology (1965)

    • Masters, Anthropology (1969)

    • Doctorate of Philosophy, Anthropology (1971)

    • Professor from 1970 to his death


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    Voluntary vs Involuntary Minorities

    • Voluntary minorities: groups of immigrants who chose to come to the United States, and their descendants

      Irish, German, Asian-Americans, etc.

    • Involuntary minorities: descendants of groups of persons who found themselves in the United States, or under United States jurisdiction, against their will

      African-Americans, Mexican-Americans

    • Ogbu argued that, "involuntary minorities" often adopted an "oppositional identity" to the mainstream culture in response to a glass ceiling imposed or maintained by white society on the job-success of their parents and others in their communities. Therefore, he reasoned, some non-whites "failed to observe the link between educational achievement and access to jobs."


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    “Acting White”

    • 1986 study (with Signithia Fordham) which concluded that some African American students in a Washington, D.C., high school did not live up to their academic potential because of the fear of being accused of "acting white”

    • It was concluded that these students' cultural attitudes hindered their own academic achievement and that these attitudes are too often neglected by parents, educators and/or policymakers.


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    African American Vernacular English

    • Known by non-linguists as Ebonics

    • In 1996, Ogbu played a prominent role in the debate about the utility of African American Vernacular English

    • Ogbu encouraged teachers to become familiar with and to make use of this vernacular in helping African American students transition to traditional English


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    The Next Generation: An Ethnography of Education in an Urban Neighborhood

    • In 1968, he had begun his doctoral fieldwork in Stockton, California in a neighborhood called Burgherside trying to discover why some children, especially minority children, performed poorly in school.

    • His dissertation was published in 1974 as "The Next Generation: An Ethnography of Education in an Urban Neighborhood"


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    The Next Generation

    • explores education (schooling) in Burgherside, a low-income neighborhood in Stockton, California

    • majority of residents are blacks and Mexican-Americans - they make up about 92% of the elementary school population.

    • study explores the reasons for many children from the neighborhood failing in public schools.

    • goal was to study how the people in Stockton, including Burghersiders, conceptualize their educational system and their place in it, and how these conceptualizations influence the way they behave within the institution.

    • research covered the following groups in Stockton: (a) Burghersiders; (b) residents of adjoining neighborhoods attending the same junior and senior high schools with Burghersiders; (c) organizations and leadership representing the interests of the subordinate minorities in the wider community; (d) school personnel; (e) taxpayers, principally the middle-class Stocktonians and the organizations they formed to assist with "problems" of Burghersiders and similar groups.


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    Findings

    Belief system of minorities

    White institutional barriers, etc.

    confirms

    confirms

    Low status occupations, low wages, etc.

    High rate of school failure

    justifies

    Washington, T.A. (2008)


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    Findings

    Belief system of whites (dominate class)

    Intellectual, cultural inferiority or “subordinate minorities”

    confirms

    confirms

    Low status occupations, low wages, etc.

    High rate of school failure

    justifies

    Washington, T.A. (2008)


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    Findings

    Practice that ensues

    School Failure

    adaptation as a coping mechanism

    causes

    causes

    Mistreatment

    by dominant class

    because of school failure

    School failure

    justifies

    Washington, T.A. (2008)


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    References

    • Ogbu, John U.  (1974).  The next generation; an ethnography of education in an urban neighborhood [by] John U. Ogbu  Academic Press: New York.

    • John Ogbu. (2009, May 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:30, May 26, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Ogbu&oldid=292426446

    • Washington, Tracy Amanda. (2008). The next generation: An ethnography of education in an urban neighborhood. Powerpoint Presentation.


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