The Social and Civic Purposes of Schooling
It is very important to teach a child from the beginning on how he or she can “be productive, be successful, how to face the society and most important assist them to realize their full potential and overcome limits inflicted on them” (Brantlinger, 2003, 84). This is very important especially for children from the low-income backgrounds who often view themselves as the unfortunate members of the society and face various hindrances in their schooling. When dealing with the low-income children, insisting on their academic excellence may not be of great importance since their living conditions may not promote academic excellence. A teacher may, therefore, be wasting time trying to push the child into good performance while the problems being faced by that child cannot allow the desired performance. T is therefore important to focus on how the child can overcome the barriers and once the child realizes his or her full potential, he/she can successfully work towards success. However, with the already there and the upward-striving teachers, academic excellence can be possible for the child since the background allows.
However, as Brantingler states that “…when this perspective is unique to teachers of low-income student populations, it must be seen as problematic (84), this is true because in situations where academic excellence will need to be considered, the students from low-income populations will always be left behind and may not be considered. This will eventually result into a society that is characterized by disparities in achievements along the social classes.”
The class position of the teacher/administrator impact insight into the class disparity in such a way that when a teacher has his or her preferred student in mind, he or she will definitely exhibit discrimination when dealing with the students. For example, when teaching a class that has students from the high and the low economic status, the teacher may tend to favour the students form the preferred status. Therefore, the teacher will concentrate on the preferred students and this may result to disparity in the academic performance of students from the two groups.
According to Neo-Marxist Theory, the neo-Marxist scholars argue that schools should not only focus on instilling social reproduction but they should also be centers of promoting resistance to capitalist order. The agents for this change should be the teachers who should not promote racial and socioeconomic disparities in academic excellence as this would take us back to capitalist dominance (Hill, 2002). Teachers may not have great expectations from the students from low economic status and they may, therefore, treat them accordingly. They may, therefore, have great expectations form the socially advantaged students, who represent the capitalist society and they may treat them accordingly. This may, therefore, result to a classroom characterized by academic disparities whose lines follow the socioeconomic status.
Some teachers may even prefer to teach in schools in the affluent places as opposed to those in the low-income areas. This may result to academic excellence in the high-income areas and poor performance in the low-income areas. This may be a trend towards promoting capitalism and academic disparities that neo-Marxist scholars argue against. It is therefore important for teachers to regard all the students equally regardless of their socioeconomic status. Teachers should also try to understand the child as he or she is and not to focus on the background. To those from low-income backgrounds, the teacher should assist them to overcome the barriers to their success.