Event Title

Being Black and Educated: A Walk through Current Debates in Education

Presenter Information

Alex Cunningham, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A254

Start Date

9-26-2014 1:30 PM

End Date

9-26-2014 3:20 PM

Abstract

Contemporary debates on the state of education affect students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially students of color, as federal policies continue to increase standards that undermine student achievement. The blackwhite achievement gap references noticeable differences in test scores and grade point averages that demonstrate how African American students tend to underperform relative to white peers. Countless scholars theorize why this achievement gap persists, yet John Ogbu’s oppositional culture theory is repeatedly cited within mainstream culture and academia as one of the essential understandings of African American student performance. Essentially, the theory posits that African Americans have developed negative, oppositional attitudes toward achievement that can explain their disinterest and low academic performance. It is the hope of this research to conceptualize the general flavor of what messages African American students are receiving about their own achievement, intelligence, and capability. Furthermore, numerous aspects of this theoretical framework illuminate how black student performance is often misinterpreted and mislabeled within mainstream American society and how such a perspective ignores significant realities affecting these students. The broader goal of this research is to refocus what achievement in, investment in and commitment to education look like within a relevant context for African American students and the communities from which they come.

Notes

Session I, Panel 1 - Unequal Educations: Learning, Class, Race

Award

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow (MMUF)

Project Mentor(s)

Clovis White, Sociology

Document Type

Presentation

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Sep 26th, 1:30 PM Sep 26th, 3:20 PM

Being Black and Educated: A Walk through Current Debates in Education

Science Center A254

Contemporary debates on the state of education affect students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially students of color, as federal policies continue to increase standards that undermine student achievement. The blackwhite achievement gap references noticeable differences in test scores and grade point averages that demonstrate how African American students tend to underperform relative to white peers. Countless scholars theorize why this achievement gap persists, yet John Ogbu’s oppositional culture theory is repeatedly cited within mainstream culture and academia as one of the essential understandings of African American student performance. Essentially, the theory posits that African Americans have developed negative, oppositional attitudes toward achievement that can explain their disinterest and low academic performance. It is the hope of this research to conceptualize the general flavor of what messages African American students are receiving about their own achievement, intelligence, and capability. Furthermore, numerous aspects of this theoretical framework illuminate how black student performance is often misinterpreted and mislabeled within mainstream American society and how such a perspective ignores significant realities affecting these students. The broader goal of this research is to refocus what achievement in, investment in and commitment to education look like within a relevant context for African American students and the communities from which they come.