Overview of the Week’s Readings
The readings for this week analyze and critique different possible reasons for the
underachievement of students in school. Gorski (2008, 2016) challenges the assumption that
poor families have a distinct and deprived culture and lifestyle that is the cause of their struggles
in schools. Spencer (2012) documents the strengths and problems of historic and
contemporary compensatory education models that intend to help students compensate for a
lack of cultural capital. Both Labov (1972) and Foley (1996) analyze language and culture
highlighting how researchers can easily simplify student differences as deficits.
1. Interview a family member or relative about the reasons they believe poor students,
Latino students, Black students, and students learning English do not do as well
academically as White and wealthier students in schools in the United States. Ask them
for five reasons they think this might be happening. Take notes on their responses.
2. Write a 2-3 page journal entry: a) Describe who you talked to (i.e. do not use their real
name) and a little about their background, then summarize your conversation with that
person (3/4 to one page); 2) Using your interview and two readings from week 2, discuss
what you learned about conceptions of culture, cultural deprivation, and cultural capital.
Think about any connections between the readings and the interview. Think about
whether or not the interview seems similar to the points in the reading or contradict any
of the points in the reading (at least one page). You may include additional readings from
week 1 and week 2.