The Urban Review

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 111–127 | Cite as

Defining the differences: Cultural subgroups within the educational mainstream

  • Margaret D. LeCompte


This article describes parameters of subcultural cultural differences among mainstream teachers and students. These subgroups are as attitudinally and behaviorally distinct as those grounded in ethnicity. They mandate from teachers the same concerns for differences in language, cognition, motivation, and behavior as those maintained for minority students. In the first section of this paper I discuss issues involved in definition of the term “mainstream.” Second, I examine some determinants of the types of subgroups which evolve in school communities. These include social class, age, life experiences, and activity patterns. Third, I discuss cultural change and external pressures on schools which act to exacerbate the determinants described earlier. These include technology, nuclear war, the devaluation of childhood, school size, and intergenerational changes in the American dream. Finally, I discuss teacher burnout as a form of culture shock and suggest anthropological training and insights as means to ameliorate the process.


Activity Pattern Social Class Cultural Difference Education Research Life Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret D. LeCompte
    • 1
  1. 1.Research, Houston Independent School DistrictUSA

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