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Barriers to equal opportunity in education

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What are some of the barriers to providing equal opportunity to every one, within academia?

Seeing a lot of ignorant and entitled posting lately, which doesn't even make a point to address this.

It's a shame really, a lot of discouraging and disparaging comments being made about people, who through no fault of their own, simply are not offered the sort of education their disparagers have allegedly had and have no means of getting it.

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Why is it always barriers imposed by, or the fault of society, when someone fails ?
What part does personal responsibility play in this ?

Markus Hanke taught himself GR ( and many other aspects of Physical Science ).
It was not provided for him, but he wanted it and he got it.
Barriers did not hinder him.

You, yourself, have displayed a questioning attitude.
One of the best ways to learn about things you know little about.
Yet others come here with the attitude that what little knowledge they have , is all there is.
They ask no questions, but make conjectures and proclaim results which more learned members quickly dismiss.
And yet their attitude, not barriers, allows them to double down and insist they are right ( until they are banned ).

A good attitude, and a willingness to learn, go a long way in these days of internet access and on-line courses.

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5 minutes ago, MigL said:

Why is it always barriers imposed by, or the fault of society, when someone fails ?
What part does personal responsibility play in this ?

Markus Hanke taught himself GR ( and many other aspects of Physical Science ).
It was not provided for him, but he wanted it and he got it.
Barriers did not hinder him.

You, yourself, have displayed a questioning attitude.
One of the best ways to learn about things you know little about.
Yet others come here with the attitude that what little knowledge they have , is all there is.
They ask no questions, but make conjectures and proclaim results which more learned members quickly dismiss.
And yet their attitude, not barriers, allows them to double down and insist they are right ( until they are banned ).

A good attitude, and a willingness to learn, go a long way in these days of internet access and on-line courses.

Differences between moral and causal responsibility. 

Would you say this to a five year old black kid, who's teachers have point blank said to him to give up on his dreams? Does the five year old black kid need to take personal responsibility for his failure there? Is it even his failure? Or should he just be put through it all and left to figure out at 30 that his teacher was talking shit?

Responsibility cuts both ways. A good attitude and a willingness to learn gets you nowhere when it comes to career prospects and getting around other peoples prejudices and biases. It is not a failure of the victim that they are victimised by others. Victim blaming BS. 

As for the people without a questioning attitude and a desire for some kind of positive attention, they seek what they have lacked their whole lives. They seek what was taken from them in childhood and excluding and isolating them DOES NOT HELP. 

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3 minutes ago, MSC said:

Responsibility cuts both ways. A good attitude and a willingness to learn gets you nowhere when it comes to career prospects and getting around other peoples prejudices and biases.

Yes it does cut both ways; I never said it didn't.
I've known plenty of people who had no 'barriers' to obtaining the best 'money is no object' education.
Yet their 'everything should be handed to me' attitude allowed them to not even try, and they drop out halfway through 1st year University.

There are many barriers to an education, or expanding our knowledge; the worst ones are of our own making.

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Just now, MigL said:

There are many barriers to an education, or expanding our knowledge; the worst ones are of our own making.

I am not sure they are the worst (though in some ways they may be), but growing up in an area where you have underfunded schools and little career encouragement has been shown to be a big hindrance. Especially in working class areas there is often the base assumption that the kids will not go on to higher education. Even if there is interest, the quality of the high school has been shown to be a determining factor in entering higher education. Often, students in poorer school areas are underprepared, may never of hardly had any access to computers or the internet etc.

Even overcoming these issues there is of course the cost of higher education in many systems (such as UK or NA) is prohibitive for many (which feeds back into the thought process for lower-income folks who just do not expect to be able to afford it to begin with). Even after getting university there are additional hardship for low-income folks which especially now has become quite apparent. Some cannot afford a laptop or stable internet, for example.

I think that if especially affluent folks which all the benefits fail, it is more likely on them. However, for the others, there are clearly barriers that they need to overcome and they are not always well prepared for it. That all being said, an inquisitive mind with willingness to learn is clearly an important element. At the same time, I do understand that this in itself is a luxury that not everyone can afford. 

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14 minutes ago, MigL said:

the worst ones are of our own making.

Our own making. Collectively or as individuals? 

A number of pragmatic theories of ethics highlight that in terms of blame, Society is the object of moral responsibility and is far more deserving of moral condemnation than any individual who happens to randomly be born into it, without any say in the matter or any say in how society treats them for things beyond their control. 

It's all very well to say that individuals have to do more to contribute to our moral ecology, but institutions have far more power to do this than any one individual can and many actively try to uphold a maladaptive status quo that harms our moral ecology and life as a whole. Why? Because money is God. People are expendable if there is enough money in it for institutions.

One of the hurdles to getting a degree in ethics for example; is the desire of the ethical student to have an ethical teacher. How can he have an ethical teacher when his teacher props up a system of inequality and coercive manipulation? A system that uses people up and milks them for all they are worth. A system that has the audacity to talk about Free education as a good idea while it puts all mention of it behind a paywall so that only those who have proven themselves worthy by buying into it, can read it only to see it as a joke because why would they need free education when they've already paid for it?

17 minutes ago, CharonY said:

That all being said, an inquisitive mind with willingness to learn is clearly an important element. At the same time, I do understand that this in itself is a luxury that not everyone can afford. 

In my experience this is something every child has, not everyone allows children to keep it though. 

I can only afford this luxury because I refused to listen to anyone who said I should give it up since I was never going to be able to "Make money like that." I wanted to go on to study physics at University but all the adults in my life at the time, said it would be a waste of time and money and that I should just settle for joining the army so I could "stay out of prison."

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I live in a University town.
The majority of kids are immigrants, who realize the value of education.
Rich affluent kids, ( with no socially imposed barriers ) just want to go to College to party.
There are certainly some barriers to education, but want and encouragement are big factors in getting one.

The 5 year old black kid that MSC mentions, might have a chance at an education IF his dad was home to encourage him.
If his dad was home, he might not be on his own most of the time, and might not have to drop out to get a job, or worse , join a gang.

I was an immigrant child in 1968, and my parents worked day and night to make sure we kids got a University education.
( although now that I think about it, I could have become a plumber, and made a lot more money )
First generation immigrant kids work very hard to make sure they don't have to live the life their parents did.
Second generation, not so much.

Do you think its a coincidence that lately, Colleges and Universities are filled with Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian and east Asian students ?
I'm not sure about the US, but in Canada, visible minorities make up over 30% of 1st year students.

https://higheredstrategy.com/visible-minority-participation-in-university-studies/

A much higher percentage than is present in the general population.

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29 minutes ago, MSC said:

One of the hurdles to getting a degree in ethics for example; is the desire of the ethical student to have an ethical teacher.

I doubt that in order to study ethics one needs to be an ethical person. For the same way as studying infections does not require you to be infected. 

11 minutes ago, MigL said:

I was an immigrant child in 1968, and my parents worked day and night to make sure we kids got a University education.
( although now that I think about it, I could have become a plumber, and made a lot more money )
First generation immigrant kids work very hard to make sure they don't have to live the life their parents did.
Second generation, not so much.

I have been a first generation immigrant in a few countries now (and the first time being a kid myself). As such I would like to try to add to your experience a bit. First, the salary situation has changed. While your (and my parents) were able to work themselves out of poverty, it is now quite a bit more difficult. Second, for folks that have been subjected to economic penalties (which includes African Americans, but also indigenous folks whom there were additional barriers, such as simple things such as getting housing) also are still catching up. It is pretty well documented that there is quite a bit of a difference between immigrants depending on when they immigrated (and where from). This is also the reason why e.g. African immigrants outperform African Americans as well as white folks in the US, for example. Many recent immigrants start off with a higher education level and are able to obtain bachelors with a higher frequency. However, that is not true for all immigration waves (there are a few studies looking at performance based on subgroups, which quite critically dissects the myth of overperforming Asian communities for example).

The second and third generation issue is real, but you might be missing the reason. First generation immigrants expect that they need to work harder than their counterparts. However, kids being born into the system do not have any other perspective rather than being, say, Canadian or US American. But if they are still treated as immigrants, it causes a certain amount of disenfranchisement. I.e. they do not understand that they still need to outperform in order to be seen as equals. That can lead to downward spirals in performance. That all being said, I still do see a higher rate of entitlement among non-immigrant kids (though  nowadays rich second or third generation immigrants are pretty close, so there might be some equalization...).

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18 minutes ago, MigL said:

The 5 year old black kid that MSC mentions, might have a chance at an education IF his dad was home to encourage him.
If his dad was home, he might not be on his own most of the time, and might not have to drop out to get a job, or worse , join a gang.

Why do you assume it's because his dad isn't on the scene? You do realise most black fathers aren't leaving. It's a vicious stereotype that needs to stop. It's not like there aren't absent white fathers too.

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I agree with your points about poverty levels, CharonY, and even I would like to see free ( or at least subsidized ) education for all who want it.
But that wouldn't solve the problem of bad attitude, and not putting forth the effort.

On the other hand, someone like Markus ( and I don't know his financial situation or why he didn't obtain a formal education ) with good attitude and self driven work/effort managed to become the leading expert on GR on two different Forums I've participated in ( equalled only by Dr.Rocket :) )

7 minutes ago, MSC said:

Why do you assume it's because his dad isn't on the scene?

The first cause for concern was a 1965 report by a Democrat D Moynihan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_family_structure

It is areal phenomenon, not imaginary.
But its cause is rooted in systemic poverty of Black Americans.

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3 hours ago, MigL said:

But that wouldn't solve the problem of bad attitude, and not putting forth the effort.

Sure, my point is that it is not an either or situation. And even worse, bad life situation can make it more difficult to put in an effort (or one could argue that it would mean that one would need to put disproportionate amount of effort which may or may not be possible). As such it is difficult to disentangle, unless some of the barriers are removed. I.e. if you compare attitudes among folks with similar standing.

3 hours ago, MigL said:

But its cause is rooted in systemic poverty of Black Americans.

Not only that, but also because of overcriminalization. I.e. stronger and more frequent persecution for similar offenses than their white counter-parts. That being said while still disproportionate, there are more families with a black father than without out there.

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Anonymization of exams is a good idea. A person should be judged by knowledge, not by the surname or the depth of the pockets of the parents.

Edited by Sensei

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I think for exams that is for the most part not a huge issue. Typically there are so many that you do not spend a lot time looking at their names and in quite a few systems student IDs are used. It is getting trickier when it comes to say, admission in the first place but also later on for graduate student selection.

But again, the socioeconomic issues do have other costs, too which can affect performance. After entry to college it might be too late to do anything, so measures have to be taken before that.

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8 hours ago, MigL said:

Why is it always barriers imposed by, or the fault of society, when someone fails ?
What part does personal responsibility play in this ?

Markus Hanke taught himself GR ( and many other aspects of Physical Science ).
It was not provided for him, but he wanted it and he got it.
Barriers did not hinder him.

My wife started an internship at work where they would have a highly motivated girl of color in one of the inner city high schools get exposure to nursing for a summer. One of the girls selected wanted to pursue nursing after high school. She literally had no idea how to apply, where to apply, how to fill out applications, and could get no help from those in her family as they were just as clueless. My wife basically held her hand through the process. Then it turned out she needed remedial math and some other skills as the high schools didn't really make sure their kids were qualified to move on to the next grade in school. Schools in low income areas cannot afford tutors, resource teachers, computers or in some cases text books like they can in high income areas.

My wife had little hope this girl would be successful. It is not that she was not motivated but that she was completely clueless as to how to go about doing it. She was never taught to study, never taught to deal with bureaucracy, buy school supplies, get around barriers to education, didn't know who to contact or what to say to them when she did.

Why is it that when removing barriers to education is suggested, it is always the individual and their lack of personal responsibility that is at fault?

What part does society play in this?

 

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And all I'm saying is that removing 'barriers' only gets you part way there.
I think the bigger challenge is making people want an education.

To paraphrase  Venus Flytrap...
Education is not being forced on anyone.
It's yours for the taking, but you have to want it.

complementary lesson about atoms with each viewing.

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20 minutes ago, MigL said:

And all I'm saying is that removing 'barriers' only gets you part way there.

True.

21 minutes ago, MigL said:

It's yours for the taking, but you have to want it.

Not true. 

 

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Have you caught Dimreepr disease :) ?
Don't leave me hanging; can you give a more elaborate answer/opinion ?
Sure, there are anecdotal stories where some motivated but disadvantaged kid can't get an education.
But there are also many where motivated but disadvantaged kids do get an education ( my story for one, in a previous post ).

So, if we agree on the disadvantaged part, maybe we should start questioning the 'motivation' ( or lack thereof ) part.

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1 hour ago, MigL said:

Have you caught Dimreepr disease :) ?

Aaaaarrrrggghhhhh!!!!!

1 hour ago, MigL said:

Don't leave me hanging; can you give a more elaborate answer/opinion ?

I though my previous post did a pretty good job of showing that just wanting it is not enough. 

The OP asked about what some of the barriers were to equal opportunity in education. You responded by suggesting lack of personal responsibility was the reason people could not get an education. You didn't once acknowledge there are indeed barriers to education in your first post.

When I tried to point out some people do indeed run into barriers by giving an example I'm familiar with, you swung back around to 'it's there if you want it'.

1 hour ago, MigL said:

So, if we agree on the disadvantaged part, maybe we should start questioning the 'motivation' ( or lack thereof ) part.

 I don't mean to sound rude, but that is for another thread. This thread is about educational barriers that people encounter that are no fault of their own. You seem to be putting the blame on the victim. It is similar to trying to talk about police brutality against blacks and getting the response that black people deserve it for running, or trying to sell cigarettes illegally, or lots of other things. 

Edited by zapatos

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3 hours ago, zapatos said:

You seem to be putting the blame on the victim. 

I think that's an unfair representation of what MigL said, at least i didn't read it that way. 

Lack of motivation =/= laziness. You could be an extremely hardworking and unhappy warehouse worker, but never even think you could improve your lot through education. It's just not a thought for many socio-economically disadvantaged people.

If your dreams provide the ceiling of what you can achieve in life, then poor people in rich countries are conditioned to dream no higher than the dog's bed. It's as much a barrier to education as is anything else, but perhaps the most important because it's the only one you can directly tear down with your own mind.

That's not mutually exclusive with making changes to education system, but while we're waiting for that to happen, as Billy Bragg says: the system might fail you, but don't fail yourself. 

 

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9 hours ago, zapatos said:

She literally had no idea how to apply, where to apply, how to fill out applications, and could get no help from those in her family as they were just as clueless.

This is a very good point! I am currently reading a lot in relation to some new (and generally awful) reforms to our higher education sector that were just passed here in Australia. In some of the submissions to parliament, it was highlighted that one the key factors leading to under representation of Indigenous people in universities is that they often don't know what they have available to them. As such, the prospect of enrolling and relocating seems financially daunting and confusing. It is also one of the things that can lead to low levels of retention. Students who live in more metropolitan areas (and more likely to be white) are much more exposed to university life, either through linkages in their school or because someone in their family has been, etc. 

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9 hours ago, zapatos said:

My wife had little hope this girl would be successful. It is not that she was not motivated but that she was completely clueless as to how to go about doing it. She was never taught to study, never taught to deal with bureaucracy, buy school supplies, get around barriers to education, didn't know who to contact or what to say to them when she did.

One example of education breeding better education. If the parents don't know this information, they can't pass it along. Puts the kid behind others who know their way.

If parents are illiterate, they aren't going to read to their children, which is something that boosts kids' education. If the parents are working multiple jobs, they might not have the time to read to their kids, or take them to the library. So poverty is an impediment. (and of course poverty has connections with racial inequality) In the US, the education system is funded by property taxes, so in poorer areas there is less funding. Not as many resources. Another way poverty is an impediment. (there are more, too. Health is anther factor. Nutrition.)

Bootstrapping is possible, but it's still an impediment, regardless of how many examples one gives of people doing it. It's wrong to say barriers did not hinder people, if all you know is the result. All you can say is they did not stop them.

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4 hours ago, Prometheus said:

I think that's an unfair representation of what MigL said, at least i didn't read it that way. 

 

Perhaps you are correct. It wouldn't be the first time I misunderstood someone. 

But when someone wants to talk about an issue that affected someone, and the response is to immediately turn that around and suggest the affected person may be the cause of what happened to them, it sounds to me like victim blaming.

"I was raped."  -- "What were you wearing?"

"I was robbed." -- "Why were you out so late at night?"

"I ran into barriers when trying to get into college." -- "Why didn't you try harder?"

Those may be valid questions, but when you don't first try to understand the circumstances it feels like you are trying to deflect and blame the victim.

It seems to me that one of the barriers to education is people not taking seriously the issue of barriers to education. 

Edited by zapatos

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9 hours ago, zapatos said:

You didn't once acknowledge there are indeed barriers to education in your first post.

Ah, but I did...

20 hours ago, MigL said:

What part does personal responsibility play in this ?

Part implies fractional cause, not the whole cause.

And a quick look at the OP shows that we are both wrong about the intent of the OP

22 hours ago, MSC said:

What are some of the barriers to providing equal opportunity to every one, within academia?

It's a shame really, a lot of discouraging and disparaging comments being made about people, who through no fault of their own, simply are not offered the sort of education their disparagers have allegedly had and have no means of getting it.

The OP seems to imply barriers within academia.
And also comments that some forum members make about other ( new ? ) members who may not have had the opportunity for an equivalent education.
I chose to address the second option, in my first post, and gave examples of forum members who have done well through a good attitude and hard work ( including the O Poster in the Physics forums ), and gave advice regarding the attitude to have , on this forum, to get some learning opportunities out of it.

It went in different directions after that.

49 minutes ago, zapatos said:

Perhaps you are correct. It wouldn't be the first time I misunderstood someone. 

Perhaps you are correct, it wouldn't be the first time I failed to make myself understood by someone.

Edited by MigL

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40 minutes ago, MigL said:

Ah, but I did...

Thanks, now I understand. I think I'm a bit sensitive nowadays with all the nastiness in politics. 😳

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I think there is little argument that both elements are important, though things like policy can mainly only address access whereas self-motivation is more difficult to achieve. However, it is important not to use issues of the latter as an excuse to not address the former.

 

4 hours ago, hypervalent_iodine said:

some new (and generally awful) reforms to our higher education sector that were just passed here in Australia.

This happens everywhere, and generally speaking I have the feeling that folks are barking up the wrong tree quite a bit. Especially for underprivileged folks the issues start way before college and need addressing. Even simple things like counseling (if done correctly!) during high-school can make an impact. Obviously teacher quality is also immensely important, and I do not think that folks invest enough in areas which clearly need more support.

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