Race and Ethnicity Term Paper

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Race & Ethnicity

A methodological purist, Gillborn's analysis of the British education system inside the visual vein of race and ethnicity supports a totalitarian failure, plainly capitulated in "Fifty Years of Failure: 'Race' and Education Policy in Britain." (Gillborn, 1999) The 1980s brought with it a governmental trend in Britain, shifting policies from the basis of conviction to consensus. This quickening theoretical policy shift caused great concern, tacking on yet another issue to the age of the "national moral panic." (Ball, 1987) From the upheaval of the national spectrum to the classrooms, the change left dynamic marks on the systematic existence of British life, particularly on behalf of the racially diverse citizens its public schools aimed to teach.

The trend to transfer teaching mechanisms began in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the British nation faced a topical change from homogeneity to include the modern diversification prevalent in the modern world. As early as that time, educators began to analyze the importance of ethnic diversity in their classroom, concurrent with a stunning increase in immigration control seeking to end the influx of Caribbean and Indian subcontinent laborers. (Gillborn and Gipps, 1996) Behind the motive's of the government's shift was the opinion of racial bias that "the dominant conception of minority students was a problem: a threat to standards and order." (Gillborn, 1997)

While this fear was irrational, it was in some ways based in a rational review of reality. At the same time, the United States was under the International microscope for its failing desegregationist movement that not only took children from one school setting to another but, quite literally, actually lit whole cities on fire. Also, Spain and France were morphing from their homogeneous pasts to include large amounts of North Africans in their systems. Gillman argues that instead of, however, approaching this new age with a sense of law making and thoughtful policy, the British government formed a staunch opinion that the marauders of their homeland were not to be welcomed but regulated, not to be taught, but merely put in school.

Over the next three decades, the modern age brought with it a collective understanding of the new age of immigration as well as the diverse face with which the British government and people would be forced to find a way to deal; likewise, the political rhetoric changed, and soon following that, so did that of the local community practitioners. (Gillborn, 1999, Pg. 2) The paradigm shift, however, failed to extend to the core of the community. Compulsory education was rife with elitism based on race and ethnicity, and with exhaustive recount, Gillman found the same was frighteningly true at postcompulsory and higher education levels.

To analyze the causation and implications of Gillborn's analysis of race and ethnicity in the school system of Britain, it is critical to understand how these terms are defined separate of school. "Race" and "ethnicity" are both powerful, image-laden terms that need to be handled with the appropriate amount of respect. Both are used with extremely different purpose and meaning in modern though, particularly in the schism between the schools of sociology and those of anthropology. Anthropologists would argue that "race" does not, technically speaking, exist. The biological variants that separate one ethnic group from another are so minor that they must be, in fact, more generally observed by visual tools like skin color than by anything extrapolated from science. (Adelman 2005) At the same time, sociologists like Gillborn freely employ the term race, granting it credence in their work because the differences that are noticeable in skin tone are not only part of a larger ethnic understanding but are also key to the frame from which society views them, both internally and externally. Both sides of the gap agree on ethnicity, although their usage of it sometimes varies; ultimately, ethnicity is the group to which one claims belonging, to which one is affiliated, or to which one is assumed affiliated. This is markedly clear today, when many Muslims are faced to reckon with assumed ethnicities because of visual markers. True ethnicity definitions are correlated to geographic groups, religious trends, and communal organization; Afro-Brazilian is an ethnicity; black is a race.

The most recent British census from which Gillborn compiled his work stated that over 5.5% of the total British population, or just topping 3 million people were classified of ethnic minority background. (Gillborn, 1999, p. 3.) They were subsumed under broad headings: South Asian and Asian or black and African Caribbean, denoting the cultural standard deviation of describing both ethnic groups falsely; the first dubbed an "Ethnic minority," the second a "color minority." (Hickman, 1993) Yet, what he finds infinitely intriguing is the bizarre disconnect between the ideas of the British people and their actuality; ultimately, they consistently overestimated the relative size of the ethnic minority population. White people, he reports, overestimate the most, nearly doubling the actual number, but a third of them go as far as four beyond the true level in their extension of presumption. (Amin et. Al. 1991) This heightened perception is important in its fallacy because it is emblematic of the feeling of encroachment witnessed on the parts of the previously-homogeneous people of Britain in response to their new diversification and how that carries out into law.

At the same time that race and ethnicity are clearly demarcated by the census and societal sentiment as a whole, Gillborn brings up the interesting pique that it is not ever mentioned in immigration law, yet, still, rules have been constructed restricting access to people from certain areas, namely the Indian subcontinent and the Caribbean, while granting entry and privileges to those from Europe, particularly whites. (Gillman 1999, pg. 3; Layton-Henry, 1992) While he sees this as an interesting manifest of earnest discrimination but cloyed shame for it, he understands the ramifications it implies for those already present in England from these ethnic groups. Largely, he says, the ethnic minority is not only residentially centered in urban enclave clusters, with greater levels of unemployment, and of a different level of economic mobility and success; more importantly, they also outnumber their white counterparts in the age of the diversity profile. (Gillborn, 1999, p. 3.)

Since the young are either in school or at the age of reproduction of school-age children, their increased numbers in this setting are particularly important. Likewise, so is the fact that while 80% of those ethnically diverse in the British school system were born in England, almost all of them are bilingual, with the non-English language being spoken at home and in other aspects of their quotidian lives. (Gillborn, 1999, p. 3.) So gave rise to the trend for ethnic awareness in secondary schools, when Smith and Tomlinson (1989) noted that the bilingual capabilities of the children put into question the extent and viability of the English language instruction in the schools. In the midst of an elite cooperation of policy makers fearing the ideological loss of mother England to the face of the ethnic immigrant, this was plainly unacceptable. (Tomlinson 1992)

Furthering this albeit quiet battle cry amongst the ruling elite was the fact that many of the children in secondary schools between the ages of 11 and 16 who were classified as ethnically diverse also tested below standard levels. (Gillborn 1997) While this issue was particularly heightened for young Bangladeshi children, whose statistical profile put them in far worse than substandard levels of testing achievement, the problem itself emphasized the growing linguistic problem in England with the moral ramifications of language as barriers to success, upon which the government capitalized. The crux of Gillborn's argument is that this is only a partial truth and, under the banner of linguistic barriers to success, the government systematically diminished the future power of growing children on the basis of their skin and ethnic membership. (Gillborn 1997, pg. 377)

Evaluations of the public school performances in the 80's revealed a possible success on the part of the National Curriculum, introduced effectively to restructure toe compulsory education system across the board. The results of the reports indicated that the data, which was centrally collected and made no allowance to "social class or other background variables," revealed a seemingly increased proportion of those who leave the system with at least five higher grade passes. (Gillborn, 1999, pg. 6; Gillborn, 1997, p. 379) Upon closer examination, the results realized statistical improvements in the groups that had already been performing well, but that other groups, like that comprising the African Caribbean students, fell sharply. (Gillborn, 1999, pg. 6.) Questioning the government about the viability of the program, the DfEE reported to the Lawrence Inquiry that present act was sufficient. (Guardian p. 3.) Gillborn, meanwhile, noted the disconcerting popular national belief that a "frightening[ly] complacent conclusion that the National Curriculum already provided all necessary flexibility." (Gillborn, 1999, p. 15.)

In light of their distinct performance in the schools and the shift of the National Curriculum policy, the closer examination of the treatment…[continue]

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