Through programs that directly fuel desegregation in schools, our educational systems have become a melting pot of different races, languages, economic status and abilities. Programs have been in place for the past fifty years to bring student that live in school districts that lack quality educational choices, to schools that are capable of providing quality education to all who attend. Typically the trend appears to show that the schools of higher quality are located in suburban areas, leaving children who live in “black” inner-city areas to abandon the failing school systems of their neighborhoods for transportation to these suburban, “white” schools. (Angrist & Lang, 2004)
This mixing of inner-city and suburban cultures creates new challenges for students and teachers alike. Children from the inner city characteristically have lower GPAs, attend very few AP classes and have a dropout rate that is much higher than their suburban counterparts. This has been an area for much exploration and study throughout the years, but yet the trend of a knowledge gap among children seems to continue. Perhaps one area that needs to be further explored is the differences in cultural identity in these two groups of students and its impact on the education these students wish to achieve.
In this paper I will present the numerous theories built around the process of establishing one’s identity and provide examples of how this identity shapes a students involvement and actions while in school. I will also reflect on the importance for systems that foster identity formation that is equal for both inner-city and suburban children. It is crucial to the success of America’s schools to understand that a mixture of cultures creates a mixture of identities. Therefore, acknowledging this difference in identity and providing positive identity formation will allow for an improvement in the interaction and ultimately the education of students in today’s integrated schools systems.
History and Cultural Analysis
What is identity?
Identity has been a concept with multiple meanings in the past decade, but it is a crucial concept to understand when talking about mixed cultures. James Fearon (1999) describes identity as being used in two senses. He argues that identity has a different meaning when it comes to “personal identity” and “social identity”. For the purposes of this paper we will use the idea of “personal identity,” which Fearon further establishes as:
A set of attributes, beliefs, desires, or principles of action that a person thinks distinguish her in socially relevant ways and that (a) the person takes a special pride in; (b) the person takes no special pride in, but which so orient his/her behavior that he/she would be at a loss about how to act and what to do without them; or (c) the person feels he/she could not change even if he/she wanted to. (p 11)
His definition is particularly interesting as it focuses on the idea that identity isn’t something that...