Sustainability of Social Impact Education Projects

Ed4.0 BLOG
May 19, 2018

Sustainability of Social Impact Education Projects

When entering a community, with the intent of making an impact, one must remember that to make the impact sustainable, it has to be relatable to that particular community. This means that minimal disruption is brought upon the community and that its value and beliefs are integrated within the project.

Culture shapes attitudes, beliefs, and shared way of doing things. For these reasons, it would be foolish to think that culture among different racial groups had no effect on the current achievement gaps in the education system. As a result, the sociocultural theory “has gained increased prominence in the psychological literature and serves as a fundamental lens for understanding how culture contributes to learning and human behavior” (p. 57). Sociocultural theorists propose that learning requires a comprehensive understanding and application of cultural signs, symbols, tools, and artifacts, that groups of people use to embody their collective experiences (p. 58).

NAEP data reveal, “there is a stark difference between the types of courses taken by different racial groups” (p. 25). Most attribute the achievement gap to socioeconomic status, however, the data collected tells a different story: even when social class is held constant, African American, Latino, and Native American students still underperform their counterparts. Due to such claims, unfortunately, there are many educational leaders that are ‘deficit-thinkers’ – believing that race is solely to blame for the achievement gap and that certain students may not be academically fit or equipped for success.

Due to deficit thinking educators push upon a uniform “one-size fits all” approach to education which will only make the achievement gap across races even wider (Howard, 2010). Therefore, it is important to understand how culture, in particular teachers’ knowledge of their students’ culture, is relevant to academic success. The solution lies in differentiation. Educators must relate concepts to students in a way that makes sense in their (students) own world. What is needed are instructional practices that differentiate for students of different abilities and ethnicities. Individualizing education and utilizing differentiation strategies in the classroom could negate such gaps. This is only a start, but realizing that instruction has to be based in a way that makes sense to those being taught brings us one step closer to closing the achievement gap.

Howard, T. C. (2010 ). Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools. New York : Teachers College Press, Columbia University.