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Critical Race Theory (CRT) can be described as a theoretical framework that provides a radical lens as the simplest way of understanding and analysing the challenges faced in the society through racial difference. Rollock and Gillborn (2011:1) say that CRT is grounded on the understanding ‘that race and racism at the merchandise of social thought and power relations’. Among the numerous themes highlighted around CRT, is ‘Centrality of Racism’ that notions that racism is traditional. Delegado and Stefancic (2000) state that racism is encircled within the manner society is structured and is commonly perceived as natural. This belief critiques Gillbron (2002) findings that steered that the white academics viewed racism as traditional and didn’t recognise the follow of racism inside the colleges.
CRT additionally planned a limitation is that this argument with the second theme referred to as ‘White Supremacy’. This theme demonstrates that the racism reinforced racial superiority of the White people, and sustaining that the standardization of the White people are largely privileged inside the broader society and academic institutions. It may be argued that's additionally a major issue of the performance of black boys in education as they don’t have a way of happiness and a secure house inside society and faculties.
(Butler-Por, 2011) Defines underachievement as merely an inability or failure to perform appropriately in a given task, unfulfilled potential. Over the years, there has been growing concern regarding the underachievement of black boys in their education. This according to Lambeth (2012) has been quite a persistent problem facing different national policy makers nationwide for many years now. Over the past four decades, national research has depicted that Black pupils’ achievements seem to persistently lag behind the average achievement of their fellow peers especially the female students, and the gap is consistently growing in both primary and secondary education. This issue of underachievement has hence become a question that has seemed to stir a lot of emotions all the way from as early as the 1950s when the Black Community showed growing concern over their children's poor performance in their education, (Lambeth, 2012).
Based on an explanation by Coard (2011) there lies a widespread lack of understanding regarding the needs of boy Black students that has hence fuelled the widely‐held belief that male black children were somehow educationally subnormal. Nevertheless, this might not necessarily be the case. There lie various factors that accelerate this underachievement of black boy students. The first of this factors include; feminisation of schools. According to, (Browne, 2009), over the years, most schools have developed the notion that teaching especially primary teaching is a suitable and appropriate job for mostly women. Ever since the introduction of elementary state education to the United Kingdom back in the 1870’s, teaching especially that of younger school pupils was then, as is still, regarded as a female job. This, together other vague ideologies such as the ideology of manliness prevalent in the nineteenth century, implied that most teachers in schools were of the female gender and hence the only men who could be seen to be teaching were apparently those who had undertaken their education in public schools and who then taught in those same schools, (Butler-Por, 2011).
It is due to this notion of feminization in schools that has been seen to lead to underachievement by black boy child. This is because, in most instances, the female teachers are seen to pay more attention to the female students hence failing to nurture required male traits in these black male students such as competitiveness and leadership which attributes to them falling behind in exams and the jobs market as well, (Smith, 2013). According to an argument by Mr. Sewell, who is a former Leeds University education lecturer, he said that in some cases these feminized classrooms tends to make most black boy students to became quite alienated and as a way to vent their anger they end up finding themselves in gangs and gang violence. This is a step away from the success of their life to a downfall. Most female teachers tend to conduct most part of their teaching indoors which is deemed quite dull for the boys and may result to them barely paying attention. Thereby, based on a suggestion by Mr. Sewell, it would be essential for schools to make use of more male teachers particularly in primary schools so as to mitigate more outdoor activities in the curriculum and some coursework replaced with final exams.
This is necessary because, a huge part of the lessons and exams undertaken in schools, with an emphasis on coursework, tend to be more suited to girls hence seriously disadvantaging the black boy's child leading to poor performance, (Smith, 2013). Especially since the introduction of the GCSEs system in the late 1980s, the school environment has been subtly adjusted in a way that has been seen to somehow minimize the natural advantages of the black male child reducing their chances of achieving better performance and maximizing those of the female child. An emphasis on coursework is said to highly favor the conscientious and girls are often seen to be very conscientious. Then came the new form of A-levels, whose emphasis on "modules" which further induce anti-competitiveness, hence neglecting the problem-solving nature that black boys traditionally enjoy, that is partly the result of the ideological prejudices of the educational establishment.
Most part of the current school system does not generally value enough of the traditional black male things. Most basic skills necessary for the male black child to be competent have been seen to be quite feminized which hence makes them find it increasingly difficult to cope where things are uncertain for them, specifically around competition or the use of physical strength. They hence resort to gangs, which present them with opportunities to portray their basic male instincts. Nevertheless, to solve this issue (Lambeth, 2012) suggest that schools need to increase the numbers of men (black if possible) teachers in primary schools which will hence attempt to break down sexual barriers in ways that would help benefit the black male student and as well provide them with a mentor and a role model. This will as well help eradicate the kind of growing generation of black boys in school who tend to act out traditional ‘laddish’ behaviours, as they deem it a way of them being accepted in the society as it is regarded as ‘cool’ especially by the ladies which is mainly seen to be as a result of lack of male guidance as they grow up. This will hence enable the development of alternative, and presumably more compliant, forms of masculinity and enable these male black students to achieve their goals academically and in life, (Butler-Por, 2011).
The other issue that highly affects the black boy's achievement is culture. Over the past decades, it has been sadly noted that most black British school children have been seen to live up to pre-existing perceptions of being lazy, very unruly and not as much academically gifted. Another misconception is that of hustling. They tend to believe that money comes first and hence in most cases you find this child joining gangs as a way of hustling and hence neglecting their education. This gang hustling tends to stretch into a robbery which hence leads quite a number of them finding themselves in juveniles at a young age which is not the achievement hoped for, (Renzulli, 2003).
It is even sadder to see that their teachers, as well as some of their parents and guardians, seem to have no expectations of them doing well at school. This hence demotivates this black boy at school making them feel generally as failures. For instance, taking from a story by (Lambeth, 2012) of a young black boy, he said that “When I was ten years old at primary school, one of my teachers was conducting a research project regarding ethnicity as part of her Ph.D. and she asked to have me as her interviewee. She asked me quite lots of questions. And among them was one question I don’t ever forget, ‘how do you think people see black boys?’ and I told her ‘I think people see us as stupid because of the clothes we wear and the way we talk.’ This response more or less portrays what the black boy felt people view him as and it quite demining and demoralizing for a young person which may break their motivation and hence lead to them underachieving, (Browne, 2009).
Nevertheless, this attitude that people may have towards this black boys is in some instances triggered by their own nature. In most cases, it is observed that most of these black boys are quite bullies, lack respect and speak very rude boy talk which is quite the opposite of being intellectual, which also comes from a rejection of authority that incorporates academic, (Butler-Por, 2011). It is seen that the main reason that they tend to reject authority and academia is occasionally rooted in their families' attitudes towards the British ‘establishment' and a deep underpinning suspicion regarding how and why they are even being taught what they are being taught. Nevertheless, this rejection comes from the racial underpinning experienced even in the learning activities. You find that in most of this academic activities if it is history, it’s that of the white man, the same case goes for the literature, geography, music, drama among many others.
Such are issues that make the black boy feel left out. They tend to feel like if someone is trying to erase their belief, their culture and introduce them to the white man’s culture through education, (Renzulli, 2003). This hence leads to rejection of academics in favor of their culture. They feel left out and hence feel that it is entirely up to them to stand up for their culture. According to a report by Bellegem (2010), he believes that the reason behind most black boys underachievement and one that makes the black girl and whites be competitive is the difference in their upbringings. The black boy fails when it comes to academic as well as social discipline, as previously stated, they are quite rude at talking and they highly lack a sense of respect even for their teachers which makes teaching them quite difficult. On the other hand, the black female and most white students tend to have a lot of discipline academically and in the society and have more value placed on achievement, social status, career and earnings and when they are taught, all of those things are grounded in doing well at school, (Bellegem, 2010).
(Surtees, 2014) Believes that the teachers as well play a big role in the underachievement of the black boy academically. Surtees, (2014) compares the nature of achievement experienced by the black boy in places like Trinidad and Jamaica (Caribbean) and those in most British countries and the difference is quite enormous. Academic excellence in the Caribbean is achieved quite excellently to a point where pupils are seen gaining scholarships to come learn at the best British and American universities. Schools in the Caribbean countries and other black countries like Africa are held in quite a high esteem, the black boy in such countries respect the education system, teachers command respect or even fear if necessary, unlike the British teachers who tend to lean more towards being pushovers than disciplinarians, (Butler-Por, 2011). This nature of being pushovers makes the black boy barely respect them and hence they tend to do whatever they feel like doing which deteriorates their performance greatly leading to their failure and downfall.
In the UK and the USA, there are said to be very few black teachers in the classrooms currently who would encourage the black boy child to do their best and enforce discipline on them. Past generations of black scholars and intellectuals such as CLR James and Stuart Hall have passed and hence there is little and nearly no younger black teacher generation to act as role models for young black kids to aspire them to study, and maintain discipline which are two crucial aspects of achieving one's goals or what is expected of oneself, (Barthel, 2014). And even if there were; they would receive very little needed support especially from the black boy's parents and siblings. This is basically because parents to this black boy seem to be more concerned with their children staying out of trouble especially with the police than them excelling in the classroom which has been seen to highly attribute to failure and underachievement for the black boy child. Thereby, to solve this issue, like the government’s drive for more black policemen some years back, a campaign encouraging more black teachers would be hugely helpful for the next generation of black boys and as well, parents, guardians and the entire public should lend a hand to see that the black boy maintains discipline which is actually the beginning of achieving, (Lambeth, 2012).
Another factor leading to underachievement for the black boys is a cultural misconception. (Wardrop, 2011) Believes that the reason behind Black boys underachieving in academics is mainly due to a cultural misconception that dictates that academic success is a sign of homosexuality, which is seen as a taboo by blacks especially. Due to this factor, many black boys are seen to perform quite poorly because of their fear that appearing studious in a way undermines their masculinity. This notion of masculinity says that if one is a male and they aspire to perform highly, it only implies that they are feminine, even to the extent of saying they are gay, which is a category many people, especially at a young age, feel ashamed being categorised in so they end up deliberately underperforming in order to avoid such titles. This notion hence makes the black boy to rag behind the white students and their fellow black girls. Based on statistics, the black boy in the UK and the Americas is seen to be at least 10 percentage points behind girls in national tests.
This notion has made education take a second seat and in the minds of the black boy child, a notion of entrepreneurship has been planted to take the predominant place which has hence gotten the black boy involved in the informality of what University of the West Indies academics refer to as a 'hustle culture',” (Wardrop, 2011). The black boys hence tend to become more interested in hustling, as a quick way of making a living, rather than making the commitment to studying and achieving their academic goals which is more of a street thing which hence imposes a tremendous impact on how well the black boy does in their academics and their life achievements in general.
Based on a report by Surtees, (Surtees, 2014), he suggested that further investigation could be an essential factor to help find out the roots and how to counter this notion of masculinity in the black boy child. A system-wide reform would be deemed necessary to ensure that the educational system does not disadvantage black boys but rather encourages them to pursue education rather than engaging in street activities of the hustling culture. To counter this notion, a replica of the system that has led to the success of some black boys since not all underachieve should be copied and tested to see how good it would be at eradicating this norm of masculinity. The other reason leading to underachievement for the black male child is the Lack of legitimate opportunities to get a good education. This is necessarily due to factors such as teacher racism that is quite alive in most schools, which is a factor largely attributing to most black boys underachievement. In some schools, despite the 2000 act against racism in schools and demanding promotion of equality, black boys especially can’t be enrolled in some schools, (Wardrop, 2011).
This is because the schools are either owned by white or most students are whites and their parents protest against their children interacting which black boys as they are disguised as destructive due to the gang culture surrounding blacks or the black boy's parent fear that their child will face bullying and discrimination. One way or another, it makes it quite a difficult task for the black boy child to secure a legitimate education. Some of them are forced to study at home with private tutors hence missing out on a lot of school activities that leave alone academic achievements enable a child to be sharp all round, (Barthel, 2014). In some of this school, the teacher barely pays necessary attention to the black boy child that would help him grow academically like the rest, just because he is black, he faces discrimination from teachers and the students which tend to affect them psychologically and hindering their chances of achieving as would be expected of them.
The final reason as expressed by (Butler-Por, 2011) is emotional and motivational factors. This factors mainly include the possibility that in some cases black boys due to the norm that they are the failure, they are emotionally affected that they can barely realize their own potential. They tend to lack insight about themselves and others which hence results to them having quite too low, narrow, limited, and too stereotypic expectations about themselves. This hinders them from working to their full potential and hence what they achieve is as well quite low and disappointing. Butler-Por (2011) suggests that some of this factors tend to manifest themselves as a lack of clear personal goals and values. This makes the black boy pointless, they don’t know exactly what they want in their life and it’s due to such that when any other better option rather than education comes up, they tend to quit their academics and pop into the other option which is often gang culture or street hustling.
Other factors generally include a low sense of inadequacy and low self-esteem, a high incidence of emotional difficulties which makes them prone to depression and anxiety, fear of failure, may have a fear of success and a habit of blaming others and ‘acts of chance, Poverty, and high proportion of households ruled by single mothers among others, (Lambeth, 2012).
In conclusion, the underachievement of the black boy is a serious aspect that is as a result of a lot of aspects, family, culture, schools issues, and discipline among others. Nevertheless, it is up to the parents, guardians, siblings, teachers and the entire public to change this norms that have made the boy child feel worthless, that have made him not believe in himself and re-write the poor culture of gangs, street hustling, racism and discrimination if the black boy child is to get a chance to improve and fulfil their expectation academically and in their life in general. These parties (parents, guardians, siblings, teachers and the entire public) should pay close attention to this black boy child and find out what exactly is making them underachieve particular and find a way to amend the damage at a young age if possible. And most of all, they should enact discipline as it is the one most dominant factor that has and is still leading to the underachievement of the black boy child.
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