Well, there was a twitter exchange today between @IcingOnTheCake, and @oldandrew and @samfr, following this blog from @IcingOnTheCake, and something became clear to me (I’ll come back to that later).
It appears to be certain that children from poorer backgrounds have a strong tendency to do worse in school than those around them who are from richer backgrounds. There are some nuances here around ‘poorer’ and ‘richer’, and not everyone does worse etc. However, the overall trend is clear. To be honest, when I first heard about this I was surprised (I think it was from @headguruteacher that I first saw the evidence), having come from a FSM background and done very well in education….I had assumed that anyone could do well regardless of background. But this was an example of personal anecdote getting in the way of the evidence. @IcingOnTheCake’s blog points out that Elites in our Society have a significant advantage when it comes to education, and that the current mantra of ‘low expectations’ might be an attempt to hide that advantage and push ‘the blame’ back onto the disadvantaged group.
So, what did I realise? In this case, I suspect that there is a feedback loop in play. For whatever reasons (and there has been much talk and analysis about it recently), children from poorer backgrounds tend to have worse educational outcomes than children from wealthier backgrounds. This then leads to an expectation that the outcomes will be worse. These expectations probably start in schools, then spread to Government, Society and the children themselves. Once the children believe it, then the effects of low expectations are a reality….and we have a feedback loop….everyone believes it’s true and also believes that it is inevitable: children from poorer backgrounds will have worse educational outcomes…it’s the law.
This means that the truth is multi-faceted. There are Elites. There is an expectation of low achievement, but this is also a ‘myth’ in that it isn’t inevitable. The loop needs to be broken. My belief is that it can be broken, and that teachers are the professionals to do it. I’m not sure how, though?