Factors Affecting Formal Education

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Factors Affecting Formal Education 

Part 1:

Module 2 and 3 explore the role of the external environment of a student on their experience and performance in school. Starting with Module 1, the Reading “Learner Diversity and School Practices”, by Gowlett and Niesche evaluates the educational system of Australia. It identifies how the students coming from different social classes, ethnicities, socio economic status, genders and sexualities are marginalized and excluded in school, further exacerbating the disparities (Gowlett & Niesche, 2017, p. 353). 

They start with talking about Social class and how schooling has been important in perpetuating resulting differential performance. They highlight the concept of ‘cultural capital’ by Pierre Bourdieu, which refers to the variety of skills, natures and temperaments students bring with them to school and importance of understanding it (Bourdieu, as cited by Gowlett & Niesche, 2017, p.356). Socio-economic status also influenced student performance, as not being able to afford instruments that aid learning e.g. computers, books, sport activities etc., greatly affected performance of any student (Gowlett & Niesche, 2017, p.356).

Gender was also an important factor, as it not only influenced the future job prospects, but was also so deep rooted in the education system that it enforced ‘rules of intelligibility’ (Butler, 1990, cited by Gowlett & Niesche, 2017, p.359) on students. An example in the book highlights that even the books given to read to pre school boys and girls differed, as the former got ones with robots, machines while the later got books on princesses, fairies etc. (Gowlett & Niesche, 2017, p.360). Race and Ethnicity was also important, as the diverse and indigenous population in Australia, found it hard to adjust to preconceived notions of normalcy. The reading also explored other areas such as marginalization faced by the LGBTQ community and how teachers need to take an active role in mitigating and embracing difference. (Gowlett & Niesche, 2017, p.366-367).

In the reading ‘The Virtual Schoolbag and pedagogies of engagement’ the author discusses how the different issues of exclusion mentioned in the previous reading lead to disengagement of student from learning and what can teachers do to cater to that. The reading introduces the idea of a ‘virtual schoolbag’ which included all the cultural capital and experiences the students brought from their own lives (Thomson, 2002, as cited by McGregor & Mills, 2017, p.373) and that it may not be visible for a teacher which may be a problem. The reading then elaborates on disengagement and that it stems from the continuous marginalization and identified triggers for it. Outside triggers include social and cultural factors, home environment, other responsibilities, gender, disabilities, mental health concerns etc. (Mills & McGregor, 2014; Thomson, 2002, p. 375). Inside triggers included the curriculum, school environment, policies etc. and teachers can step in and use their emotional labor (Hochdchild, 1983, as cited by McGregor & Mills, 2017, p. 376) to mitigate this. 

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