The purpose of this essay is to discuss effective pedagogies in education young people in the urban environment. By pedagogies I mean those methodologies concerned with teaching and encouraging learning. I will be looking at the dominant pedagogies in place in Britain and in the USA.
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I will also discuss the particular significance of these in the urban environment, and how inner-city school’s needs may differ from those of more rural schools. It is worth noting here how we may define certain areas as being ‘urban.’ Britain is, on the whole, an urban country. But in their book Urban Schooling, Leslie Bash and colleagues write that beyond using common sense definitions of ‘towns’ ‘cities’ or ‘villages,’ an urban area might be identified as one where the population is high in proportion to the geographical area, and the housing dense. Urban areas are spaces of advanced economic activity, and also are defined by government/administrative/legal criteria. (Bash et al:1985:2) But besides stating the type of geographical area concerned, the terms ‘urban’ and ‘urban schooling’ also imply a number of social concerns. Urban neighbourhoods have come to be understood, certainly as ones which have a high proportion of ethnic minorities, often as ones where poverty and disadvantage can be found, and ones where tension and inequalities are rife. It can be seen, therefore, that a link has been made in popular public understanding, between neighbourhoods in which there are many Black/Asian/Hispanic residents, and neighbourhoods where there is poverty, disadvantage and tension. Bash et al write that urban schools reflect inequalities and tensions, because in the city the density of population and of numerous different communities make clearly visible these issues. (Bash et al:1985:49-50) Their definition of urban schools takes it as inevitable that they would be seen in this way. Walker, on the other hand, challenges the term: The definitional looseness with which the term urban education is used conjures up images of dysfunctional educational and social institutions, acute levels of poverty, and high degrees of underachievement. The fact that some urban communities do exhibit these characteristics does not mean that education in all urban contexts must take place within dysfunctional institutions or be characterized by high levels of underachievement. (Walker:2003:5) For the purposes of this essay, I consider it important that I discuss effective pedegogies for educating ethnic-minority children in Britain, and for educating those from working class backgrounds, and also that I discuss the issue of schools which are deemed to be ‘failing.’ However, I do not wish to assume that all of these factors occur in conjunction with one another. Further, as stated urban areas are ones in which numerous communities exist alongside one another. Urban schools provide education for a large number of white and middle class children, and also a good number of extremely bright ones –
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