I sit somewhere in the middle for this debate. It has been plain for many years that most of the kids at the bottom end of our educational system are from poorer segments of our society. We know that they are coming out of our schools with little or no qualifications and go on to have families that replicate the failure.
Why is this so surprising? If the resources are not in the home in the form of roll models, will, monetary resources and consistent parenting, then the students starts way behind their classmates from more affluent families. That is not to say that parents I poorer areas are bad parents.
We all know of hard luck, bad luck, ‘struggle stories’ and we can hold these up as shining examples of success, despite the deficits described above. We need to ask, why is it that some students succeed despite the odds stacked against them.
Some people talk about ‘cultural capital’ as the explaining factor to success. Put simply, that means that students from families who are familiar with the ‘basics’ of what it takes to succeed; including family values that are reflective of the dominant sectors in society, real economic resources that can support education, role models who have succeeded and understand ‘education,’ uncrowded housing, to name a few.
If students succeed despite these odds then we need to examine what bios different about their stories. Was it good teaching, personal character, school or Sate policies around education or something that we have missed?
Either way, what are we going to do? Teachers and school systems, backed up with good resourcing going into looking at engagement that will bring these kids who are failing back into the system. We as teachers will need to think outside the square, because if we keep doing what has clearly failed without looking at our own practises, then the failure will continue.
I am well aware that many teachers in many schools are doing just that. The problem does come down to what we are prepared to look at and having Government policy that supports this rather than the mish-mash we are getting from a directionless Government that occupies parliament at present.