Cultural Deprivations Effect On Education


  • The theory states that the norms, values, skills and knowledge are inherently inferior which causes them to fail in the education system.
  • Their inferior language skills and their lack of respect for education is responsible for their underacievement not material deprevation.
  • The theory places the blame for underachievement on the w/c families instead of the system and states that it is the parents fault for not teaching their children the correct skills to function in society.
1 of 10

Ways In Cultural Deprivation Disadvantages Childre

  • Language is an important part of the education system and how parents communicate with their children can affect massively their future and how they develop cognitively and whether they succed well in school.
  • Hubbs-Tait (2002) found that when parents challenge their children with language such as: 'What do you think?' cognitive performance improved. This links to Feinstein (2008) who found higher educated parents are more likely to ask questuions and talk like this. On the other hand, less educated parents tend to ask more simple descriptive questions like: 'whats this animal called'. He also found educated parents are more likley to use praise when communicating with their children which instills a sense of competency and seeking praise from adults which will helps with education.
  • Most theorists link the different use of language to differing social class, Bereiter and Engelmann (1966) pointed out that the language used in w/c homes is deficient and uses disjointed statements and gestures to communicate. 
  • These things lead to children failing to develop the correct complex thinking and words to understand abstract ideas and thinking toi do well in education and so they fail.
2 of 10

Speech Codes

  • Basil Bernsteain (1975) -  identifies some differences between the speech codes used by the different classes and these influence educational acievement. He specified two diffeent types of codes used by the classes.
  • The restricted code - this code is used mainly by the w/c all the time and by higher classes in a family or equivalently comfortable situation where they use a limited vocabularly that comes in the form of short unfinished sentences, predictible language, gestures and is based of the idea that the person you are talking to has shared many of the same experiences and so can fill the gaps and understand what a person is saying and does not involve much analysis.
  • The elaborated code - used by the higher classes this type of speech features a larger vocabularly and more detailed complex sentences. The speech is more context free and can divulge more abstract ideas and does not assume that the other person has experienced the same situations as the speaker. 
  • The elaborated code is used in the education system and because this code is also used by the middle class they have a higher probability of succeeding.
3 of 10

Parents Education

  • Many theorists argue that parents past experiences with education can heavily influence childrens success in education.
  • Douglas (1964) found that w/c parents put less value on education which leads to them having less ambition for their children and gave them less encouragement and took less interest in their education as a whole.
  • This was showed through things like the fact they visited school less and were less likely to discuss thier children's progress with teachers, because of this the children had less motivation and achievement.
  • Feinstein showed a similar conclusions, he argued that parents' education is the most important factor affecting childrens success, m/c parents are able to give their children an advantage by offering certain oppertunities and socialising them in certain ways:
  • Parenting Style - Educated parents are more likely to empahsise discipline and have higher expectations for their children and so encourage active learning and exploration. On the other hand lower educated parents tend to participate in harsh and inconsistant discipline like saying: 'behave yourself'. This reults in the child not learning independance and self control causing poor motivation at school and issues with interacting with teachers.
4 of 10

Parents Education Cont.

  • Parents' Educational Behaviours - parents who have been educated are more likely to know the set of skills, norms and values required to get through education more successfully,
  • This is because they engage in behaviour like reading to them, teaching them basic numbers, letters and shapes.
  • Educated parents also know how to better access expert advice on how to childrear and can establish better relationships with teachers and TA's as well as properly guide their children through the system effectively as well as recognising the educational benefit of things like museum and other activities
  • Use of Income - Better educated parent tend to have more money and also use it a better way to promote their childs learning.
  • Berstein and Young found in 1967 that m/c mothers are more likely to buy educational books and toys that encourage reasoning and stimulate intellectual and cognitive development.
  • W/c households are more likely to lack these resources and so these children start of with less developent intellectually.
  • Higher class parents are also more likely to have a better grasp of proper nutrition as well as being able to afford more expensive nutritional food.
5 of 10

Parents Education Cont.

  • Class, Income, Parental Education - usually higher class parents are more educated than lower class parents but Feinstein noted that income and class does have an effect but that parental education has its own affect regardless of the other two. THis explains why better educated parents tend to have children who do better t school but also explaisn why not all w/c children fail in school and visa versa.
6 of 10

Working Class Subculture

  • Some scoiologists that support the idea of cultral deprevation suggest the idea that the lack of parental interest in education is a reflection of the values of the subculture that exists within the w/c.
  • A subculture is a group within a society that has a set of norms, values, attitudes and beliefs that tend to be different from the mainstream culture in society.
  • The same theorists say that the w/c has a different set of goals and attitudes to certain things in society like school and this is why their children fail at school.
  • Suagrman (1971) - theorised 4 key features that act as a barrier to educational achievement:
  • Fatalism - the idea of what will be will be, it essentially means that they believe that they can do little to change their status in life and therefore their is little point in trying to change or try in education.
  • Collectvisim - this is the idea of valuing being part of a group over succeding as an individual. The w/c tend to value collectvism whereas m/c households tend to value individulism and so are not held back by loyalties to their families or social group.
  • Imediate Gratification - seeking pleasure for now rather than later which means they are less likely to work hard for reward.
  • Present Time Orentation - seeing the present as the most important and setting no long term goals.
7 of 10

Working Class Subculture - Cont

  • W/c children internalise these beliefs and values of their subculture through socialisation and results in them underachieving.
  • Sugarman pointed out that these differences occur because m/c jobs are secure careers offering future prospects for individualist advancement. This situation encourages long term planning and and a willingness to invest time and effort in getting qulaifications like degrees.
  • On the other hand w/c jobs tend to be less secure and have little to none career structure meaning few possiblities ofmpromotion or progression in wages.
  • Thorists argue that parents pass on values of class to their children through promary socialisation and so this means m/c parents equip their children with the tools to succed on purpose and inadvertently whereas w/c parents fail to do this or equip them to fail.
8 of 10

Compensatory Education

  • This is a combative measure to tackle cultural deprevation  by providing extra resources to schools, communties and pupils.
  • THis is done by intervening at the early socilisation process to compensate for deprevation in the household.
  • In the US the most well known and funded compensatory education program was Operation Headstart instroduced in the 1960's to poorer areas in the States this multi billion dollar programs aim was 'planned enrichment' of the deprived childrens areas by bringing extra resources and instill motivation to ensure achievement. It included things like: improving parental skill setting up nusery classes and home visits by educational psychologists.
  • Sesame Street a childrens TV program featuring a collection of minor celebrities and muppets including Roscoe Orman that taught children basic maths, litearcy skills and morals was originally a part of Operation Headstart.
  • In the UK we have had seveal similar programs such as Educational Priority Areas, Education Action Zones and Sure Start which was a nationwide programme aimed at pre-school children and their parents.
9 of 10

The Myth Of Cultural Deprevation

  • Although it does provide some explanations for educational failings in the w/c, it has been heavily criticised.
  • Nell Keddie (1973) - saw cultural deprevation as a 'myth' and sees it as blaming the vicitm instead of understanding the failing of others and societal institutions. She pointed out that a w/c child can not be deprieved of its culture and instead they are culturally different and they fail because the system is dominated by m/c values.
  • She argues that the higher classes that rule the country see w/c culture as deficent instead of recognising it, building on its strengths and challenging teachers prejudice views on w/c culture.
  • Troyna and Williams (1986) - argue that it is not the fact the childs language is deprived but that the school has a negitive attitude to their speech pattern as evidenced by the fact schools have an unoffical heiarchy of language with m/c code at the top, w/c, ebonics (black speech) and then other languges.
  • Other critics like Blackstone and Mortimore in 1994 point out that it is not that w/c parents have no interest in their children education but instead they attend less parents eveings because they work longer hours or are intimidated by the m/c atmosphere at the school. They may also want to help but do not have the knowledge or education to do so. There is also evidence that schools have less effective ways of contacting w/c parents and so it is harder for them to keep in touch about their childrens progress.
10 of 10


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Education resources »