Let’s assume that we have two students who are equally smart (IQ-wise), has access to the same educational materials, hardworking and persevering in their studies, and equally a master in the same subject matters and skills. Basically, they have equal mental capabilities with only one thing different – their economic status. One is well off while the other not so much. Will their academic performance be affected differently? Definitely. Let’s looks at some parameters where their performances will differ greatly.
One. Time to study. A well off child has nothing better to do except to study. That is if you assume he or she doesn’t take advantage of his or her cash and shops, go to parties often or do pot. Let’s just assume that for this case, he or she is more focused on studying. As opposed to a not so well off child who, if not living with his or her parents, does everything for him/herself, i.e. laundry, cook/buy/prepare food, iron clothes, clean, buy groceries, budget, what not. All the things that are necessary for survival which a well off kid has someone else do those things for them while the other needs to do it on his or her own simply because he or she can’t afford to hire any help. This still rings true even if the not so well off kid still lives with his or her parents. Since chores are often done by the children, study time is still lessened due to responsibilities. Also, if a well off kid is “independent” in a way that he or she has his or her own place, those little chores are still easier owing to the fact that they can afford to hire services such as laundry services, food delivery, etc. A not so well off kid has none of those options at all.
Two. Problems and priorities. All of us have problems. As a student, our main problem would be tests, quizzes, exams, recitations, papers, in short, studying. For a well off kid, studying is their main problem and priority. Especially if their parents are gracious enough to take care of everything else for them, they should be able to study just fine and focus all their energy into studying and nothing else. Not so well off children are well, not so well off. Studying is not their only problem. Most of them think about money more often so that they can pay for their tuition, board and lodging, food and other school fees. And these problems are actually prioritized more by not so well off students compared to their studies. I mean, if you haven’t found money for your exam fee then studying for exams would just go to waste since you won’t be able to take the exam anyway. Too many other things occupy a not so well off student’s mind that studying only comes after all these problems are solved. No wonder they perform poorly in school. Stress is their main enemy.
Three. Budget on good food. Nutrition is essential for a growing mind and body. The better nutrition you get, the better your body and brain works. That’s why some food are called brain foods and others are toxic food. But good food is expensive. Eating a good and healthy meal three times a day and maintaining snacks in between just isn’t a priority for those students who are not so well off. As much as possible they’ll save money on food so that they’ll have spare money for more important things – tuition, fees, etc. This results in them getting only the cheaper, not so healthy variety of foods (mostly processed) which are not really good for your body and especially your brain. A brain without sufficient nutrition, no matter how much of a genius its capacity is, will never do well. It’s like a great machine that isn’t well oiled. It is the best but it functions so defectively due to lack of oil, lack of nutrition – the most important thing neessary to keep it in top shape. This is not a problem with well off kids.
There are many other parameters that can show how much economic capability affects academic performance despite the fact that brain capacities may be equal. The reason why there are more people from the lower economic class who perform poorly in school compared to those from the upper class is not because those from lower economic brackets are dumber, slower or more idiotic than their upper class counterparts. No, that’s bullocks. It’s because of a difference in priorities and access problems. It can easily be understood if you study Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Those from lower economic brackets struggle everyday to meet their basic neccessities like food, shelter, water, and clothing. According to Maslow, as long as these basic needs are not met, a human being won’t be able to transcend to the second level of needs let alone the higher levels. The thirst for knowledge and need for education is located in the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. No wonder those from lower income brackets find it hard to prioritize such over their basic needs. Compared with those who are fortunately well off, their basic neccessities are already taken care of allowing them the opportunity to transcend to the higher levels. The academe, especially since in our country good education and tertiary education (which is very important in the PH because without it you won’t be able to get a decent enough job to help you break away from the cycle of poverty rampant in this country) remains elusive to those from lower economic classes. The poor therefore remain poor and the rich get richer and our educational system is helping in fostering such a cycle. Whenever people say that education is the most important thing to achieve success, if a great number of our people have no easy access to it, then progress would be slow indeed.