Perceptions of learning difficulties : a study examining the views of Pakistani and white chldren with learning difficulties, their parents, peers and school staff
Contributor(s)University of Huddersfield
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AbstractThis research investigates cultural differences and similarities in the perceptions of four British Pakistani and four British white children aged eleven with learning difficulties. This is pursued through four main aims that examine how aware pupils are of their learning difficulties; how they and their significant others perceive their learning difficulties; how they respond to key labels used to refer to them; and to what extent there are cultural differences and similarities between the two groups of pupils. This work has been carried out because there is currently limited research in this area. The pupils’ views are explored in two contrasting Bradford (West Yorkshire) primary schools where the cultural population is either predominantly Pakistani or white. A variety of data collection methods, including semi-structured interviews, a self-image profile, focus group interviews and observations have been used to collect data. The findings indicate that there are more commonalities between the Pakistani and white cultures than there are differences, for example although Pakistani and white children enjoy coming to school and want to do well, they are unhappy, embarrassed, and humiliated about having a learning difficulty and hence face these additional pressures in school. Pakistani children expressed more of an interest in attending university and then embarking on professional careers compared to white children. Peers of average/higher ability perceive children with learning difficulties to be more prone to bullying, slow learners, unpopular and these peers have low expectations of what the children with learning difficulties are able to do. Staff view children with learning difficulties as lacking in confidence and selfesteem, experiencing unhappiness, having a low self-image, working at a slower pace and often lacking motivation. The implications of this research indicate that schools needs to raise the selfesteem and confidence of children with learning difficulties, so that these children are able to view their learning difficulty in a positive way. Schools need to be aware of the pressures that children in the low ability groups face, and schools therefore need to maintain a balance in providing children with a basic skills curriculum matched to the individual needs of children and yet continue to promote their personal development and well-being.
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