Friday, February 29, 2008

Education, Social Mirroring, and Immigrant Students

In the United States, unfortunately, many immigrant students receive negative social mirroring from the classroom and outside world. Immigrant students tend to feel segregated and discriminated against in school. In comparison with European immigrants, Latino and Asian immigrant students tend to have a hard time assimilating into mainstream society due to their skin color. Some immigrant students believe their skin color is the barrier keeping them from fitting into the mainstream society. Some have experienced being laughed at for their foreign accents and non-fluent speaking skills. Immigrant students consider "being white" and speaking "correct," "fluent," and "native-like" English as pathways to success in American society. Their painful experiences usually lead to negative feelings towards school and then contribute to their low academic achievement in comparison with white students.

Moreover, as white students regard receiving higher education as pathways towards higher socioeconomic (highly-paid) occupation, immigrant students have a tendency to believe that many doors are closed, many job opportunities are limited, and social stratification exists in the society even when they obtain educational credentials. In fact, immigrant students tend to get low-paid jobs and the least desirable jobs because of the class stratification and restricted social mobility. Limited job opportunities may hinder immigrant students' motivation towards going to school, and they may consider going to school as a waste of time. Developing the above perspectives, the issue of to what extent formal education can help immigrant students succeed in the society should be taken into serious consideration. How can schools provide all students with a supportive environment and offer them equal opportunity for future development? Could the supportive school environment compensate for negative social mirroring that immigrant students receive from the outside world?


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