Debates exist on whether it is the parental or teacher responsibility to effectively educate all these differences in student learning. Teacher’s expectations/stereotypes whether conscious or subconscious may serve to either support all these learning differences in a mutual learning environment or may advantage some to the disadvantage of others. According to the theory of critical pedagogy which attempts to tailor the educational environment according to students’ lived experiences, most educators do not consciously attempt to disadvantage students who come with non-dominant cultural, economic, ability differences yet since all of these students are located within a dominant culture they may or may not receive the proper attention required. Due to dominant curriculum content/narratives and norms of thinking which serve to stream non-dominant students into lower learning tracks and socializes them as such, many students fall between the cracks of the educational system and do not get their full learning potential realized.
According to several critical pedagogical theorists the role of most schools is one in which the values of society with all its inequities are reproduced. Instead of focusing on the Zone of Proximal Development as described by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1962) and Giroux (1998) teachers simply do not have all the knowledge base resources available nor the financial incentive to pay due attention to these important factors. Although working in the same time frame as Piaget, Vygotsky focused on cultural influences on cognitive stages of development in thinking (Santrock, 2008. Vygotsky, 1962. 1978). For Vygotsky culture specifies what to think, how to think and the means by which individuals think. For this reason, language is considered by him to be an essential element in the learning process since it represents the means by which the adult guides the child through the learning process (Santrock, 2008. Vygotsky, 1962). This illustrates that students who have a second or third language that they are exposed to at home learn differently than those exposed to English only. Since language is the primary means, according to Vygotsky, of intellectual transformation then language has a direct impact on learning. Children use internal speech and imitate their parents’ speech so they start teaching themselves through the use of this self-talk. Development according to Vygotsky, means that children gradually become adapted through language to their cultural background and effectively to the learning environment. This theory otherwise known the sociocultural or social cognitive approach illustrates the importance of culture and language in the learning process. Teachers who address language and cultural differences in their teaching by recognizing and effectively including these understandings within learning are being effective educators (Santrock, 2008. Vygotsky, 1962. 1978).
Another important factor is the role of socio-economic backgrounds. According to Giroux (1998) schools should do more than simply replicate the stratification existing in society by emphasizing values of competition, individualism, and intellectual consumerism. Instead schools can and should promote a sense of democratic community for teachers and students (Giroux &. Schmidt, 2004). This inevitably means