From Deficiency to Strength: Shifting the Mindset about Education Inequality

Yong Zhao, Oct 10, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is an excellent article that takes a deep look at the concept of merit and 'the achievement gap' in education. In a nutshell, the argument begins with the observation that cuurent programs operate on a 'deficit model' of learning - students are judged to be deficient, and then it is the task of education to address that deficiency. But this system perpetuates the gap "because the paradigm reinforces and reproduces educational and social inequity by design." Yong explains: "The ideal of meritocracy is built on four assumptions. First, a society/authority can correctly identify the merit. Second, there are ways to accurately measure the merit. Third the merit is only individuals’ innate potential plus their efforts. In other words, it has nothing to do with their family background. Fourth, everyone has the same opportunity to develop the merit. None of these assumptions is true." Keep this article in your citations list; you'll be referring to it again and again. Also posted at the National Education Policy Center; Journal of Social Issues Vol. 72, No. 4, 2016, pp. 716–735. Download the PDF version.

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