Beyond Newsround: Raising Aspiration

Keys to Raising the Aspiration of Black Students in Schools describes aspiration as:

 A strong desire, longing or aim; ambition.

According to the recent Newsround report some students felt that although they were ambitious, their teachers did not expect much from them. 1 in 5 students felt that their future was affected by their race.

This is a complaint that has been aired since the mass migration of West Indians in the 1960s and had heightened in 1999 after the Macpherson Report stated that schools along with other institutions were racist; it is a shame that is widely still prevalent today.

What is quite clear from the report is that black children are not just one homogenous group of students who are not performing well or even lacking confidence.

We have posted some recommendations for raising the aspirations of black students in schools.

Treating all children equally

First of all, in order to cultivate motivation, the teachers must make all students realise that they can achieve anything they desire in life – regardless of their race or background. Teachers can do this from the onset by treating all children equally regardless of the shade of their skin.

Provision of culturally diverse resources in school

Secondly, teachers can help students by ensuring that the resources used in school are culturally diverse. This is an approach that will expose students to a range of achievers from their backgrounds so that they realise that they too can become more than footballers and rappers. At ACES, we raise the aspiration of students by ensuring that they learn more about people who have achieved from their culture. These people include Garrett Morgan who invented the light bulb and Dr Charles Drew who performed the first open heart surgery.

We realise that it isn’t enough to simply talk about people who lived in the past such as Martin Luther King (although it is imperative to do so). We ensure that we also introduce them to high achieving students and professionals of African Caribbean heritage from various blue chip companies such as KPMG and BT.

Allowing students to reflect on their achievements

Thirdly, it is quite natural for most people to feel that they have not achieved anything in their lives or cannot achieve anything, especially the over-achievers. It is therefore important that teachers (and parents) give students the opportunity to reflect on their achievements each year or term no matter how great or small. At ACES, we have found that this is very useful for building self-esteem. It is also good for helping students learn about themselves and commit themselves to achieving even greater goals.

Recognising, nurturing and building on aspiration is absolutely pivotal if you would like to raise the standards of achievement for any student. We are very excited about this aspect because it is not difficult to believe in and show that these students can achieve whatever they want in life. That is what teachers do on a day-to-day basis.

What other methods do you use to inspire your students? Share your comments below.

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