Educational potential, underachievement, and cultural pluralism

Donald Gillies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The term 'underachievement' is widespread in modern educational discourse, invoked most frequently in relation to a perceived failure to reach 'potential'. In this paper, it is suggested that such terms, though widely used, are highly problematic, masking ideological assumptions which concern socially constructed, culturally sensitive, subjective, and relative matters. In fact, underachievement is most often used to mean low academic attainment and the paper argues that this is already better understood in terms of well-known factors such as prior attainment, socioeconomic disadvantage, and systemic biases. This paper also suggests that there is a danger of pathologising the low attainer when in fact it may be the system which is failing the learner. Further, the paper argues that the monologic focus on individual academic attainment as the sole measure of 'achievement' fails to take account of alternative cultural values and risks the charge of cultural imperialism.
LanguageEnglish
Pages23-32
Number of pages9
JournalEducation in the North
Volume16
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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cultural imperialism
pluralism
discourse
trend
Values

Keywords

  • educational underachievement
  • acadmic attainment
  • underachievement

Cite this

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Educational potential, underachievement, and cultural pluralism. / Gillies, Donald.

In: Education in the North, Vol. 16, 2008, p. 23-32.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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