Research corner

Tes Editorial

`Identity, Status, and Culture: examining barriers of success for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds' by Anthony Walker,

New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 140: 23-30, Winter 2014 (Wiley)


Education is a means of social empowerment - through learning and study, individuals can change their socio-economic status and take steps towards making better lives for themselves. Anthony Walker's paper is concerned with the factors that could prevent this, and how they may be limited or removed.

Walker's background is in the US education system, where he notes the many disadvantages for students from low-income backgrounds. He writes that socio-economic status is especially problematic when it affects teachers' expectations of students. Equally troublesome, though, is the way that assessment of a student's aptitude does not take their background into account.

Clearly, it is important to change educational practice to remove these socio-economic barriers. However, Walker notes that simply interacting one-to-one with students from lower socio-economic backgrounds can have a positive effect. So where should teachers focus their efforts?

According to Walker, one important area is "criticality": examining the educational system of a school "for the purpose of empowering all stakeholders to become engaged and have a voice".

Developing students' identities is also key - taking into account each individual's learning and growth, rather than "generalizable, group-based assumptions and statements".

Most important, Walker says, is to view the student as an individual rather than a product of their upbringing. Knowing and appreciating every student's unique needs allows teachers to engage with them more directly in their learning experience, in order to make an education system that is fundamentally fairer and works better for students, whatever their socio-economic status.

Alexander Tyndall

Share your views by tweeting @tes

Hot off the press

Gladiator School: Blood Justice by Dan Scott (The Salariya Book Company)

ISBN 9781910184431

The sixth title in this series of novels set in Ancient Rome is a whirlwind of new friendships and old enemies, fraught with trials and heated battles. The book includes a map, an illustrated guide to the characters and an explanation of gladiatorial terms.

Fundamentals: a guide for parents, teachers and carers on mental health and self-esteem by Natasha Devon and Lynn Crilly (John Blake Publishing)

ISBN 9781784181185

This guide provides pragmatic advice on how to nurture self-esteem in young people, and discuss and deal with mental health issues. It is delivered with positivity, humour and realism, and is aimed at instilling confidence and promoting a positive state of mind, while touching on specific issues such as self-harm and anxiety.

The Norton Introduction to Philosophy by Gideon Rosen, Alex Byrne, Joshua Cohen and Seana Shiffrin (WW Norton amp; Company)

ISBN 9780393932201

This accessible introduction to contemporary perspectives on major philosophical issues and questions features 25 specially commissioned essays by prominent philosophers, presented in a student-friendly way.

For book queries, please email chloe.darracott-cankovic

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Tes Editorial

Latest stories