Review of Crozier, G. (2005) ‘There’s a war against our children’: black educational underachievement revisited

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The paper presents an analysis of the views of parents of African Caribbean and mixed ‘race’ heritage regarding the educational experiences of their primary and secondary-aged children. Drawing on empirical research evidence, Crozier’s emphasis on the parental perspective aims to add another dimension to the understanding of the achievement patterns of B/ME pupils, particularly the underachievement of certain groups of Black pupils. The paper presents a picture of an education system which continues to provide negative experiences for many Black pupils resulting in them becoming demotivated and ultimately, underachieving. It contextualises the reported research findings within previous literature which has attempted to explain the phenomenon of Black underachievement and concludes there is still an urgent need for schools to address institutional racism including some teachers’ stereotypical, and negative perceptions of Black pupils.

What has been argued here is that  the downward spiral of underachievement does not start with the child himself/herself but that it is the pathological view of the black, or in this case African Caribbean child, that is so embedded within the school institution that conspires against his or her success. It is suggested that until institutional racism is taken seriously in schools then league tables, targets or other educational policies to raise standards will have limited impact on the experience of the black child. (p596)

 This is very useful source for ITE providers which  could be recommended to student teachers/trainees as preparatory reading for discussions relating to the achievement patterns of B/ME groups, and to their roles as future teachers in relation to these. For example, the paper discusses the issue of teacher expectations and student teachers/trainees could be asked to consider the influences on their own attitudes and expectations of particular pupils, and how these could impact upon the pupils’ experience of school. This could be done in conjunction with student teachers’ / trainees’ consideration of the impact of social class and gender. Furthermore, the paper could be used as the catalyst for critical reflection and analysis of practices observed in schools. For example, after a school placement, student teachers/trainees could be asked to read the paper and to consider what they have observed which would support, or indeed, challenge the paper’s findings and conclusions. Finally, the paper offers a useful insight into the parental perspective and could be a catalyst for a discussion around parental involvement. Student teachers/trainees could be asked to consider one or more of the cases analysed within the paper and to suggest why the parents might feel in the ways that they do, and what could have been done by the schools to result in them feeling more empowered and positive about their children’s education.

Full article reference:

Crozier, G. (2005)  ‘There’s a war against our children’: black educational underachievement revisited British Journal of Sociology of Education Vol 26 No 5 November 2005 pp 585-598