The School Achievement of Minority Children: New Perspectives

The School Achievement of Minority Children: New Perspectives

The School Achievement of Minority Children: New Perspectives

The School Achievement of Minority Children: New Perspectives

Synopsis

Lower school achievement of minority children is usually explained by projecting "deficits" upon the children -- deficits that are attributed to genetic or environmental causes. In contrast with tradition, the contributors to this book demonstrate how group differences in academic accomplishment and test scores are affected by cultural factors and standard educational practices as well.

Excerpt

"Psychology advances by removing, one by one, the obstacles it has placed in its own path." William Stern's aphorism applies almost everywhere in psychology, but nowhere more painfully and poignantly than in our attempt to understand group differences in intellectual performance. A major obstacle to that understanding is the way that we usually formulate the problem itself -- roughly as "What's the matter with those people?" Such a formulation leads inevitably to some form of deficit hypothesis, leaving only the question of whether the so-called deficit is produced by "cultural deprivation" in early childhood or by genetic factors. There is little real evidence for either of those interpretations; they persist because of an apparent lack of plausible alternatives. This book breaks with that pattern, by presenting a wide range of new ideas about group differences -- at least, of ideas that were new to me. I believe that other readers will find them equally significant.

The conference that formed the basis for this volume was a remarkable intellectual experience for everyone who attended. It was sponsored by the Cornell Training Program in Comprehensive Cognitive Psychology, of which I was the Director. Plans for the conference were based on extensive prior discussions at breakfast meetings of the training program, and on an intensive effort to uncover sources of new and promising ideas about cognitive differences. In the end we invited eight speakers and all of them accepted: John Ogbu, Wade Boykin, Ronald Edmonds, Ann Brown, Carolyn Boyce, Richard Darlington, Herbert Ginsburg, and William Cross. As it happened, four of the speakers were black and four were white. Although they were all impressive, I found it especially rewarding to hear a substantial number of black intellectuals deal vigorously and imaginatively with this particular topic.

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