Minority Status and Schooling Edwin D. Bell Department of Education Winston-Salem State University
Cultural Characteristics • the process of identifying and using cultural characteristics as a basis for differentiated instruction must be treated with caution. It may be tempting to construct a laundry list of cultural traits that "explain" the school behaviors of a specific minority group, but culture is a complex and delicate phenomenon and its relationship to student behavior is seldom simple. (Educational Research Service, 1991, p. 10)
Background • The United States has large numbers of minority groups. Some have developed reputations for excellent performance in education, e.g., Chinese Americans, others have developed reputations for poor performance in schools, e.g., African Americans.
Background (Continued) • John Ogbu (1983) did ethnographic research on Chinese Americans and African Americans in Stockton, CA between 1968-70. He found that although the two groups experienced similar discrimination and came from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, Chinese Americans did well in school and African Americans did not. He developed a conceptual framework to help him explain the pattern:
Typology of Minorities • Autonomous • Immigrants • Castelike or Involuntary
Autonomous Minorities are minorities in a numerical sense; they are not totally subordinated by the dominant group politically or economically. They may be victims of prejudice, but are not subordinated groups in a rigid caste system. Often such groups have a cultural frame of reference that encourages and demonstrates success. In the US, autonomous minorities are not characterized by disproportionate and persistent school failure.
Examples of Autonomous Minorities • Amish, Jews, Mormons.
Immigrants are groups of people who have moved more or less voluntarily to the United States. They are psychologically outside established definitions of social status and relations. Their reference group is the population "back home" or the peers in their neighborhood. Immigrant minorities are not characterized by disproportionate and persistent school failure.
Examples of Immigrants • Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Caribbean people
Castelike Minorities have been permanently and involuntarily incorporated into their societies. They have little or no political power and are economically subordinate. Their disproportionate representation in menial jobs is used to argue that low status is appropriate. Castelike minorities are characterized by disproportionate and persistent school failure.
Examples of Castelike Minorities • African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, Puerto Ricans
Conceptual Framework This conceptual framework can explain minority group performance in different cultures. The Buraku people are castelike minorities in Japan and experience persistent, disproportionate school failure. The same Burakus are immigrants in the US and do as well as other Japanese Americans in school.
School, Work, and Status Mobility Ogbu (1983) argued that school plays an important role in an economy, School attempts to fulfill this crucial role in three ways: teaching children beliefs, values, and attitudes which support the economic system; teaching them skills and competencies required to make the system work; and credentialing them to enter the work force. During their education children develop appropriate cognitive maps or shared knowledge of how the economic and status-mobility systems work. (p. 173)
Cognitive Maps • Structured inequality--unequal power relationship permits the dominant group to control minority access to education and jobs. • An artificial job ceiling which limits the upward mobility of castelike minorities.
Cognitive Maps (continued) • These two factors which can change over time define different realities for the dominant group, castelike minorities, and immigrants.
Castelike Cognitive Map • Castelike minorities may tend to see most of their problems in terms of systemic discrimination. Consequently, many members of castelike minorities do not believe that effort will achieve objectives or that objectives achieved will lead to rewards.
Immigrant Cognitive Map • Many members of immigrant minorities believe that if they accommodate to the majority they will achieve greater rewards than they could achieve if they were "back home".
Expectancy Theory These cognitive maps have major implications for student and teacher motivation given the expectancy theory of motivation. This theory rests on two assumptions, people make decisions about their behavior based on reasoning and anticipation of future events, and people subjectively and intuitively evaluate the expected outcomes of behavior and then choose how to behave (Hoy & Miskel, 1991; Schlosser, 1992).
Expectancy Theory Components • valence--perceived value of outcomes/rewards • instrumentality--perceived probability that a given level of performance will produce reward • expectancy--perceived probability that a certain degree of effort will produce a specified performance level • Flow Chart of Expectancy Theory
Coping/Survival Strategies-Secondary Cultural Differences • Collective Struggle (civil rights movement and culture of resistance – see Public Enemy) (This will help you understand the lyrics of “Fight the Power – What Happened in Tianamen Square in 1989) • Clientship--manipulative interactions; go along to get along; passive resistance • Alienation--creation of a "Black Culture" which is defined by its opposition to everything espoused by the dominant culture • Norms against "acting White" • Acceptance of illegal, alternative economy for status mobility. Internalized racism (See 50 Cent –G Unit Soldiers) (Ricks, 2005)
Coping/Survival Strategies (Continued) • Assimilation--trying to internalize the dominant culture • Accommodation--maintaining positive cultural identity; operating in school according to established rules; rejecting internalization of artificial job ceiling
Accomodation • Kao and Tienda (1995) reported that accommodation without assimilation and the optimism of immigrant parents have a statistically significant positive relationship with the high academic achievement of children from voluntary immigrant families
Primary Discontinuities • “Primary Cultural differences result from cultural developments before members of a given population come in contact with American or Western white middle-class culture”…. (Ogbu, 1982, p. 293)
Secondary Discontinuities • In contrast to primary cultural discontinuities, secondary discontinuities develop after members of two populations have been in contact or after members of a given population have begun to participate in an institution, such as the school system, controlled by another group. (Ogbu, 1982, p. 298)
Questions • What are primary and secondary cultural discontinuities and how are they different? • Identify the secondary cultural discontinuities that you have observed in your school and community? • Discuss these two questions in your work group.
Questions • What if anything does this work have to do with closing the achievement gap? • Send an essay that addresses these questions to the digital Dropbox in BlackBoard.
References • Educational Research Service. (1991). Educating a culturally diverse student population: Teaching methods and the learning process. Arlington, VA: Author. • Ogbu, J. U. (1983). Minority status and schooling in plural societies. Comparative Education Review, 27 (2), 168-190. • Ogbu, J. U.( 1982, Win). Cultural Discontinuities and Schooling. Anthropology and Education Quarterly; 13(4), 290-307. • Hoy, W. K. & Miskel, C. G. (1991). Educational Administration: Theory, Research, and Practice, 4th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. • Ricks, K. Language, image and gender: A content analysis of Gangsta Rap lyrics, 1986- 2005. Research paper for SOC 485-02: Culture. Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University. • Schlosser, L. K. (1992). Teacher distance and student disengagement: School lives on the margin. Journal of Teacher Education, 43(2), 128-140. • Kao, G. & Tienda, M. (1995, March). Optimism and achievement: The educational performance of immigrant youth. Social Science Quarterly, 76(1), 1-19.