I will go one step further to say that I don’t believe there are all that many external factors which make the education of any group as difficult as it may seem. I come to believe, more and more each day, that arguments such as home life, socio-economic status, “cultural behavior” (don’t even get me started on how much I hate that one), and even quickie-diagnoses of learning disabilities which may or may not exist are simply excuses to blame the child for a perceived inability to learn – an accusation which is completely inappropriate and laziness on the part of adults charged with children’s education, to say the least.
The thing is, in TMAO’s original post, the facts were indeed that education is failing at a cultural level, rather than a socioeconomic one. I don’t think any of us believe that it is inevitable (or else we wouldn’t be working where we are), but I don’t think you can eliminate everything except the teacher, either.
I’ve seen teachers with decades of successful experience come to the schools I teach at, and get eaten alive. They inevitably blame the kids, because they have those years of success.
Which is too bad, because this is one of those situations where blame isn’t going to work. (And here, i think and hope that I agree with TMAO).
These schools are different. The Kids are different. The environment they come from is different. You can’t ignore that. If you do, If you try to say that the only difference between these schools and others is the skill of the teachers, you are going to continue to doom them to failure.
I think the real point here is not that the kids aren’t different, but that those differences don’t rule them out as successful learners.
Let me repeat that, rephrased:
Just because these kids don’t learn under the same conditions that other kids do doesn’t mean that they are incapable of learning.
There is empirical evidence for this – schools get turned around – scores go up, differences are made. We can’t ignore those differences, we need to embrace them, learn how to work with them, and still provide pathways to not so flexible world of a university education.