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The Description of Achievement in an Educational Setting and the Impact of Cultural Capital

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The definition of educational success is not fixed in stone and have been debated on by Philosophers for centuries (Messersmith, 2007). According to York, Gibson and Rankin (2015), the definition of educational success is vast but can be broken down into six elements which are academic achievement, satisfaction, acquisition of skills and competencies, persistence, attainment of learning objectives, and career success. In order to discuss on the relation and effect of cultural capital on educational success, we would also need to establish the meaning of cultural capital. ‘’Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviors and skills that one can tap into to demonstrate one’s cultural competence, and thus one’s social status or standing in society’’ (Cole, 2016). The link between cultural capital and educational success can be seen in their definitions, both include ‘skills’ and ‘competency’. This hints that a certain level of skill and knowledge is required to obtain success thus cultutral capital is a vital tool for educational success. This is true when considering the issue from the social class and ethnicity stand point however the gender point of view debunks this stand.

In the case of the social class, students from a higher social class has an edge over the rest in terms of imbued cultural capital which increases their chances in obtaining educational success. This is due to the fact that students from the higher class are imbued with the necassary ‘linguistic’ and ‘cultural’ skills that are commonly present in their society. As mentioned by Dumais (2009), ‘’linguistic and cultural competence’’ are much practiced in the higher class society as compared to the lower class. ‘’Differences in cultural capital are reinforced by an educational system that prefers these styles, leaving most members of the lower classes with little hope of achieving social mobility’’ (Dumais, 2009). This point is also supported by Wallman (2010) who found that a huge percentage of the population in the United States, in the recent years, whom were identified as having a learning disability came from low-income families. Many of them were having troubles in learning the English langguage which played an important role in the school’s educational system and a large number of them dropped out of school due to this reason (Wallman, 2010). A study done by Sullivan (2001) that measures parental social class and the child’s cultural capital showed that both factors are in very close relation with one another. In 2011, Tzanakis (2011) continued Sullivan’s research and proved that ‘’cultural variables’’ and ‘’social class’’ are indeed a important factors for students in achieving good grades. Therefore, cultural capital can be said to be an vital factor for educational success.

However, when looking at this issue from the gender point of view, cultural capital is not a vital for a person’s educational success as the amount of cultural capital each gender recieves do not reflect their performance in school. Jacobs (1996) mentioned that much of research in sociology tend to overlook the factor of gender. Many philosophers such as Bourdieu, neglects this factor and many of his works implies that gender is not an important factor when analysing a particular society. However, Dumais (2002) argued that both boys and girls receive different treatments experiences in their school systems and from their parents which places them in different postions in society. For example, parents places more emphasis in educating and providing for their son’s education than their daughter, a mindset that is still strong even in today’s society (Dumais, 2002). Yupin et al (2000) said that there still many degree courses that are dominated by males and that 30 percent of women would have to switch their courses in order to have the same distribution as men over all the degree courses. This shows that in terms of cultural capital, men are in the better position as society favours them slightly more to women. However, women is said to be doing better in schools despite their disadvantage. As stated by Jacobs (1996) ‘’female students excel in school; they repeat grades less often do than male students, have higher graduation rates from high school, and are more likely to attain bachelor’s degrees’’. This proves that cultural capital is not a vital factor for educational success.

On the other hand, in the terms of ethnicity, cultural capital is a substantial ingredient for educational success as the circumstance and attitude of the different ethnicities led to different outcomes in education. For example, in Japan many parents included ‘‘ ’shadow education’ that includes private extracurricular exam preparation schools and tutorial services’’ for their child in hopes to boost their cultural capital (Bray & Mark, 2006). Similarly in East Asian countries such as Taiwan and South Korea, parents spent their resources to supplement their child’s cultural capital with ‘‘shadow education’’ so as to better equip them with skills and knowledge for school which helped them in getting better results (Yamamoto & Brinton, 2010). While in the United States, many of the families do not have a positive attitude towards extra classes and tutoring sessions resulting in about

56,614 in 2006 of the 232,114 students that was diagnosed with learning disabilities in 2007 to drop out of high school (Wallman, 2010). This two different attitudes and approach towards cultural capital in education led to two seperate outcomes which supports the idea that cultural capital is indeed crucial for educational success.

In conclusion, possessing cultural capital is largely vital for achieving educational success from the social class and ethnicity stand point as the imbued cultural capital and positive attitude towards cultural capital is proven to be vital in attaining educational success. However, from the gender point of view showed that cultural capital may not be as important as how Bourdieu had stated in his theories

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