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Anthropology & Education Quarterly

Culturally Based Explanations of Minority Students' Academic Achievement

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Abstract

Some cultural ecologists have proposed a classification of minority groups as “autonomous,” “immigrant,” or “castelike,” and have defended the dichotomies between “macro” and “micro,” “explanatory” and “applied” ethnography. Other scholars, arguing against this position on both theoretical and empirical grounds, suggest that culture is crucially important at the collective and individual levels for the academic achievement and overall psychological adjustment of immigrant, refugee, and other minority children. The construction of learning environments guaranteeing academic success for all children requires theoretical and practical approaches that (1) recognize the significance of culture in specific instructional settings, (2) prevent stereotyping of minorities, (3) help resolve cultural conflicts in school, (4) integrate the home and the school cultures, and (5) stimulate the development of communicative and other skills that children need in order to participate meaningfully in the instructional process. These approaches have permitted applied ethnographers to rapidly turn failure into success.

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