Teachers & Teaching, Culture & Community

The social and cultural contexts in which we live have a strong influence on our learning and development. Many differences in educational outcomes are associated with students’ backgrounds and access to education, including the interaction of personal, family, school, and community factors. Australasian classrooms are among the most culturally and linguistically diverse in the world. Every year the face of Australian classrooms is changing further as new groups of immigrants from diverse parts of the world enter our schools. (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013, p. 24)

(The authors) … examine three important socio-cultural influences on students’ identity: social class, ethnicity, and gender. Then we turn to a consideration of identity, language, and bilingual education. The last section of the chapter presents three general principles for teaching every student, and specific ideas and principles for effective teaching of students from immigrant and Indigenous backgrounds in particular. (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013, p. 24)


The importance of context. Briefly explain “Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Human Development”

Context is the “total situation that surrounds and interacts with a person or event” (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2013), with contextual conditions and effects being both internal (biological or pychological) and external (social or environmental) and can influence the development of a person’s behaviours beliefs and knowledge by providing resources, supports, expectations, tools and consequences.

Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological systems theory

Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model of human development describes the physical and social contexts in which we develop a human ecosystem, made up of ‘layers’ that are constantly interacting and effecting our understanding. These layers are;

Microsystem which includes a person’s immediate relationships and activities such as family members, friends and sporting clubs

Mesosystem is the interactions between and among the elements of the microsystem, such as how family members interact with each other or with an individual’s friends or sport coach

Exosystem is the social settings which indirectly influence learning such as parental employment and how this impacts their parenting, or religion affiliation

Macrosystem is the larger society made up with sub-cultures or dominant values, laws and traditions in which an individual live

Chronosystem refers to the time frame of all these things and how time can affect people through either life cycles, transitions or non-normative events such as trauma.

Consider how you might use it to discuss the role of family context, SES status and also multiculturalism; and their impacts on school achievement.

Family context will have much influence on an individual’s behaviour; how members interact with one another (which can mold how a student acts with their peers and teachers), the social and economic status of members and the values and beliefs they uphold will shape how an individual behaves and thinks – if the family values and encourages learning, a students is more likely to be successful than a family who does not value education.

Understanding Family context.

A ‘family’ in today’s society is no longer the nuclear model of the 50’s. A family can be made of one child or many children, step brothers and sisters, one parent, gay or lesbian parents, grandparents or aunties and uncles as parents, adoptive or foster homes or just older and younger siblings. What someone calls a family should never be assumed and should always be understood.


Explain “Authoritative Parenting” and how/when a teacher might be benefit from adopting a similar style…

Authoritative parenting refers to firm, direct parenting with clear rules and consequences yet high levels of warmth and emotional support. The ways in which a parent interacts with their child and maintain adult authority influences a child’s learning and behaviour (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2012). A teacher can benefit from the similar style of direct instruction by which students are told how things will work in the classroom and the consequences of incorrect actions or behaviours whilst still encouraging learning and exploration.


Economic and social class differences

Variations in wealth, power and prestige is referred to as socioeconomic status (SES) – however no single variable is an effective measure of SES. It has been divided into three general levels; upper, middle and lower class.

Upper class is characterized by; high income, professional occupation, university education, home ownership (often multiple), exclusive neighbourhoods and political power at the national, state or local levels. Within this class there are high levels of health care, expectations, influence and resources for individuals and allows for high success.

Middle class is characterized by; white collar occupations, secondary or professional qualifications, home ownership, and political power at the state or local levels. This class also promotes success through attitude and example and often encouragement.

Lower class is characterized by; unskilled or semi-skilled lowly paid occupations which often involve manual labour, low levels of education, and little or no political power. This can affect the amount of health care available for children, with many being exposed to drugs and alcohol before birth, causing developmental problems which effect cognitive and learning abilities, attention, language skills, and issues with organisation.


All of these factors will in some way influence the success of a child on their education.

What is the relationship between low SES and school achievement? Why might this be so?

As well as the issue of health care just mentioned, low SES parents may have lower expectations or a lack of interest in education due to their own upbringing and lifestyle. A lack of encouragement from parents can affect a child’s interest for learning and attending school. Parents in low SES may on the other hand value education, but be unable to provide adequate or ideal resources for schooling which may alter a student’s confidence or abilities to learn. Home life may also be challenging and having a place to study in peace could be problematic if living conditions are crowded or disruptive.



Woolfolk, A., & Margetts, K. (2012). Educational psychology (3rd ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.(Woolfolk & Margetts, 2012)
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://msnaeemsclass.weebly.com/uploads/2/3/5/5/23555518/6870728_orig.jpg
(“Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory,” n.d.)

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