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Injustice In Education Essay

1843 words - 8 pages

Deconstruction of a social justice incident or ongoing social justice issue in education

McInerney (2007) explains that injustices and oppressive practices visit classrooms on a daily basis. This was most definitely the case witnessed in a middle-socio economic dominated high school that had a high percentage of immigrant students and students from non-English speaking backgrounds. A specific white, middle-class teacher in this secondary high school implied that these students are not worth teaching because of their cultural heritage and race. In addition, the teachers in this staff room had very low expectations of these students, did not particularly want to be involved in the ...view middle of the document...

Accordingly, the incident of the teacher being racially prejudice about the ability of her students, is definitely a social justice issue. Stereotyping and racism will prevent immigrant students and non English speaking background students from achieving high results; this will ultimately affecting their chances of getting a higher education and improving their self capital.
Discourses of racism and stereotyping can be examined using the theoretical understanding of Bourdieu’s Cultural Capital. The notion of cultural capital merely refers to a culturally specific ability even if one which is unequally distributed and which is efficient, as a power in a particular social setting (Weininger 2005). In Bourdieu’s view, social class is determined on different status or lifestyle that is a manifestation of social class differences. (Weininger). The four forms of capital Bourdieu theorised include cultural capital, social capital, symbolic capital, culture, and power as a form of capital (Jaeger, 2007). Therefore, when a teacher stereotypes her students because of their ethnicity and cultural heritage, she is automatically suggesting that she has more social and cultural capital than that of her students, furthermore, she is suggesting that her symbolic capital is higher and thus is unconsciously reflecting her dominance over culture and power within the classroom. In so far, it is evident to see how this incident is easily relatable to Bourdieu’s theories of personal capital. Yet it is important to recognise that this social justice incident relates primarily to racism; however, the discourses of whiteness and stereotyping are combined in order to assess the affect of the incident.
Racism is a major problem within society today, not only does it reflect deepening problems of social injustice but it permeates each class of society and ultimately adds to cultural and class differences. Critical theorists believe that historically constituted power relations mediate thought and the fact is some groups in society are privileged over others, and this privilege leads to differential access to services, goods, and outcomes (Rogers et al, 2005). This can be seen in the case of the teacher, she has high cultural capital as she is a white, English speaking, educated woman who is stereotyping, a primarily non English speaking immigrant class. She knows that she has power over them, and she understands that she is more privileged than her students are. Her racist stereotyping affects the dynamics of the classroom, and ultimately, affects the achievements of the students. Dee explains that proposals for promoting racial equity often emphasize the need for improvements in teacher training and professional development (2005). Tthrough racial stereotyping and the connection of social capital, this teacher is affecting the achievement of her students and contributing to their inability to progress and build their own capital.
When a teacher holds low...

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