Critical Memo 2:
Educational Stratification and its Effect on Internalization of Failure
Many schools in countries across the globe use educational stratification to “track” students into different categories based on their academic performance. This can start as early as kindergarten, and while tracking may provide some benefit for students placed in the higher tracks, it’s possible that it serves as a huge obstacle for students placed on lower tracks as these students tend to consequently label themselves as “stupid” and believe that they do not have the same ability to succeed as other students. Early education in particular plays a large role in determining a child’s future academic performance. Students react to the expectations their teachers have for them so when a teacher sets lower expectations for a student, this can have a negative impact on their performance in school. In addition, stratification or lack thereof can determine which factors students attribute to educational failure and success. To assess the effectiveness (and potential harm) of tracking in schools, we must ask ourselves: Do students’ perceptions of their own intelligence affect their future achievements? In providing an answer for that question, I will use an article from the Sociology of Education journal which uses data from secondary schools in 24 countries.
The article, “Stratified Failure: Educational Stratification and Students’ Attributions of Their Mathematics Performance in 24 Countries” by Jonathan J.B. Mijs argues that students in stratified school environments are more likely to blame themselves for poor school performance and internalize failure, whereas students in non-stratified school environments vie...
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...’ perceptions of their own intelligence affects their future achievements. Evidently, if we wish to provide the best for our students, we should turn away from stratification and promote educational achievement for every student.
While some may argue that tracking in schools can be beneficial for high performing students, findings show that it causes students to internalize failure and discourages students in lower tracks from aiming to succeed. There is a mass of potential that is squandered when we stratify students and so it is crucial that the system be changed in order to allow all students the ability and motivation to succeed. To solve this problem we must alter learning environments so that students can correctly attribute academic performance to a multitude of factors and we must stop assigning students with labels which detract from their desire to learn.
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