Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Poor performance review

I wish I was shocked that children from poor backgrounds perform badly at school, but I'm not. It is the result of Government policy that seems intent on reverse engineering society, it actively rewards people on benefits who have children. Why should Government expect parents on low incomes to have the appropriate skills to nurture their childrens educational development when such parents could (perhaps unfairly) be described as unemployable themselves!?! If such parents do not believe that educational attainment would not have reduced their own relative poverty, why should their children value it?

Poverty in itself is not the cause of relative underperformance at school but a symptom of a wider malaise. Government needs to focus on changing parental attitudes towards education rather than providing more benefits to simply relieve a symptom.

Update Laban Tall has a heart warming story of parental care on a low income here.


Anonymous said...

I am glad to read your stance.

May I add my twopence, poor performance at school and poor backgrounds are inextricably linked. But lets look at the causes, not the symptoms.

Without overloading unwary bloggers with the realities of society, I will list a few thoughts:

1. It is not a coincidence that poor people find it difficult to motivate their children given that they have been sidelined by society. Why are streets cleaner in Hampstead than they are in Hackney?

2. Given that people feel failed by the system, the very next cause of action is to try to survive through alternative – though legitimate – routes. These poor people probably encourage their children to develop other skills that will earn them money outside of the system, outside of the rat race. Is it a coincidence that people from poor backgrounds are very enterprising?

3. The school system has failed many. The attitudes of some teachers are inconceivable. They seem to think/feel that they can foretell the future success of a pupil and subconsciously, their body language and demeanour exude those thoughts. Is it a coincidence that parents from poor families do not have faith in the teachers who teach in poor areas?

I personally know of a boy from a poor area who was deemed “disruptive” by his teachers. They recommended drugging the poor boy so that he could be controlled. His mother refused to have him drugged - imagine the struggle between her and the school. This young man is now on his way to one of the top three universities in the UK after constantly being the top performer in his area for many years. He has even been in local papers. He is a gem to his community. But, let me remind you that had his poor parents not turned their back on the institution, their boy would be a cabbage.

How's that for faith in the system?

So, it is not the joy of many to live off unemployment benefit. This is not even economically sound. Rational people prefer more to less. They would rather work to earn more money than live off the peanuts of benefits. But, once into the job market, they are faced with self-righteous individuals, with self-imposed importance. Their children face the same people at their poor schools.

I know of a particular careers advisor in a school who advised a certain pupil to get into drama and music when the pupil was keen on economics, politics and philosophy. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. But then again, I don’t expect that these kinds of truths are well known.

Society is fraught with prejudice and this is the problem. All else (papers on education, reviews of one sort or another, etc, etc) is just noise. When people can’t deal with the truth, they generate noise.

chris said...

Why are streets cleaner in Hampstead than they are in Hackney?

Because the people of Hampstead care about their streets more and so don't make them dirty. There is not some conspiracy that street cleaners to people that can pay for them themselves. The council sends them out as needed. If the people in one area produces more dirt on the streets than others, or the cleaners cannot enter that area because of crime, then the streets there will be dirtier.

As for point 3. Yes the kid got bored, and therefore disruptive. Had he been able to go to a school that could strech his talent and therefore keep him interested he would never have got bored. But since the Grammar schools where destroyed the only way to get into an enviroment like that is to pay, shich his parents couldn't.

Bishop Hill said...

I think you are right Snafu. There was an excellent article in today's Times covering similar points. The economic incentives to individuals are skewed by the welfare state. Parents used to push, prod, encourage or force their children to get a skill and/or an education so that the children would not become a burden on the family. By shifting that economic burden onto the taxpayer the economic incentive has been lost with predictable results.

The article is here

Snafu said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comment, I think it's a new record!

RE. your points
1) I don't think they have been sidelined by society. Frankly with all the support and benefits poor people receive, I believe I'm the one being sidelined! People are ultimately responsible for their own position in life through their choices, parental support and yes, luck.

2) Why do you think poor people are so enterprising? That's certainly not my experience. If they are so enterprising, I suggest they do it more profitably!!

3)Aee you sure that poorer families do not have faith in teachers rather than a "whatever" attitude? Some poorer parents do recognise the importance of a good education in improving the lives of their children. My parents did.

Meanwhile the Government seems intent on destroying the one form of education proven to increase social mobility, grammar schools.

Snafu said...

Bishop Hill, thanks for the link. James Whyte's fears are well founded.

Anonymous said...

Go to Germany the streets are clean there, immaculate in fact. Why? Because people clean up after themselves not because a vast army of teutonic brush pushers march across the land.

Anonymous said...

no one owes anyone anything. each person can accomplish anything if theyre willing to put in the time and effort. where someone comes from doesn't predict where they're going in life.