Example Education Essay Discuss Effective Pedagogies for Educating Young People in Urban Schools

Example Education Essay Discuss Effective Pedagogies for Educating Young People in Urban Schools
The purpose of this essay is to discuss effective pedagogies in education young people in the urban environment. By pedagogies I mean those methodologies concerned with teaching and encouraging learning. I will be looking at the dominant pedagogies in place in Britain and in the USA. I will also discuss the particular significance of these in the urban environment, and how inner-city school's needs may differ from those of more rural schools.
It is worth noting here how we may define certain areas as being 'urban.' Britain is, on the whole, an urban country. But in their book Urban Schooling, Leslie Bash and colleagues write that beyond using common sense definitions of 'towns' 'cities' or 'villages,' an urban area might be identified as one where the population is high in proportion to the geographical area, and the housing dense. Urban areas are spaces of advanced economic activity, and also are defined by government/administrative/legal criteria. (Bash et al:1985:2)

But besides stating the type of geographical area concerned, the terms 'urban' and 'urban schooling' also imply a number of social concerns. Urban neighbourhoods have come to be understood, certainly as ones which have a high proportion of ethnic minorities, often as ones where poverty and disadvantage can be found, and ones where tension and inequalities are rife. It can be seen, therefore, that a link has been made in popular public understanding, between neighbourhoods in which there are many Black/Asian/Hispanic residents, and neighbourhoods where there is poverty, disadvantage and tension.

Bash et al write that urban schools reflect inequalities and tensions, because in the city the density of population and of numerous different communities make clearly visible these issues. (Bash et al:1985:49-50) Their definition of urban schools takes it as inevitable that they would be seen in this way. Walker, on the other hand, challenges the term:

The definitional looseness with which the term urban education is usedconjures up images of dysfunctional educational and social institutions, acute levels of poverty, and high degrees of underachievement. The fact that some urban communities do exhibit these characteristics does not mean that education in all urban contexts must take place within dysfunctional institutions or be characterized by high levels of underachievement. (Walker:2003:5)

For the purposes of this essay, I consider it important that I discuss effective pedegogies for educating ethnic-minority children in Britain, and for educating those from working class backgrounds, and also that I discuss the issue of schools which are deemed to be 'failing.' However, I do not wish to assume that all of these factors occur in conjunction with one another. Further, as stated urban areas are ones in which numerous communities exist alongside one another. Urban schools provide education for a large number of white and middle class children, and also a good number of extremely bright ones - and so any pedagogical design should hesitate to accept the typical stereotype of children who attend urban schools as being none-white, and/or poor, and/or unintelligent. It is my view that the failing of past and current pedagogies have often been that they fail to acknowledge diversity. And so I will argue that effective pedagogies would be ones which use the diversity of children within a school to lead the design of a curriculum, rather than to try and force one set curriculum in spite of the students' diversity.

Before I go on to discuss methods of teaching and educating which are at work today, I would like to outline some history of state-provided schooling.

In 1870, Forster's Education Act made school compulsory in Britain, for all children between the ages of 5 and 13. Although it was a legal requirement that all children attend, though, schooling was not provided free of charge. Evidently, poor families were disadvantaged by this, and although the Act ensured that children were educated after a fashion, it did little to narrow the gap between the calibre of educations received by rich and poor.

Since the 17th Century, the church had been the only provider of formal education for poor children. Church-schooling had been pioneered in London, where the population was densest and so the need for education was highly visible. At this time, critics of the move to educate the poor argued that schooling was wasted on the working class. Children from poor families, the critics said, must get used to hard work and having to pay their own way. Even champions of schooling for poor children, seemed to be preoccupied with its advantages for the upper classes. Rather than being concerned with giving poor children a more equal chance in life, education was seen as a way of maintaining social control over the poor, and to ensure that poor children adhered to the desired social norms. (Bash et al:1985:14)

Parliamentary enquiries in the mid 1800s, indicated that the poor did want their children to be educated, and that as Britain's cities grew and grew, the churches simply could not cope with the number of children to be schooled. And so, as the result of Acts like Forster's, the government did become more active in ensuring all young people went to school. However, in Bash et al's opinions, the system of schooling, by which the type of schools attended and the amount of education received depended on what the parents could afford, only perpetuated a culture in which working class children and middle/upper class children were poles apart.

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