Social Class and education - Welcome to the Education Forum

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Transcript Social Class and education - Welcome to the Education Forum

Social Class and education
The Facts of disadvantage
Andy Walker Learning Online
Some key facts about
working class children
 Even when compared to middle class children with the same IQ,
working class children are:
 less likely to be found in nursery schools
 more likely to be poor readers when they start school
 more likely to be in low sets and streams in secondary
more likely to underachieve at GCSE and A level
less likely to go to University
more likely to leave school early
more likely to be suspended and excluded
Andy Walker Learning Online
Explanations: Intelligence
 Sociologists and psychologists such as Eysenck suggests
that working class children have lower innate
intelligence that middle class children.
 Intelligence is inherited from parents which explains the
child’s educational performance and the lowly social
status of their parents.
 Problems
 Intelligence is a cultural construct
 Most regard factors such as poverty and time spent in
school as far more meaningful than raw IQ scores
Andy Walker Learning Online
Explanations: Cultural
 Working class culture viz. parental attitudes, child
rearing practice and language used, is to blame for
 JWB Douglas argued working class parents do not value
 Bernstein argued the restricted code of the working
class handicapped children’s language development.
Education being delivered in the elaborated code of
middle class standard English.
 The Newsons suggested middle class parents are
measurably more child centred than the working class.
Andy Walker Learning Online
Criticisms of Cultural
Deprivation Theory
It fails to consider material deprivation.
Factors such as poverty are arguably far
more significant – working class children
do not get access to nursery education or
expensive educational toys and games.
It has a rather suspect methodology e.g.
Douglas’ counting of parental visits to
parents evenings is seen as unscientific.
Andy Walker Learning Online
Explanations: Marxism
 School is seen as a middle class institution run by middle
class teachers using middle class language and
perpetuating middle class values, attitudes and power.
 Marxists such as Bourdieu suggest that working class
pupils lack the cultural capital to achieve in such an
 Marxists see school as part of the state machinery which
is designed to condition the working class to failure and
drudgery. Working class failure is therefore guaranteed
as this is one of the systems desired outcomes.
Andy Walker Learning Online
interactionist view
 Interactionist sociologists us labelling theory to
explain working class underachievement.
 Negative labels of the working class child are
constructed by middle class teachers which are in turn
communicated to pupils who internalise them and
become self fulfilling prophecies of failure.
 Positive labels are communicated to the middle class
child as ideal pupils who work hard and keep quiet –
they too become self fulfilling prophecies this time
successful ones.
Andy Walker Learning Online
Examples of labelling
Rosenthal and Jacobsen – self fulfilling
Keddie who characterised streaming as
institutionalised labelling. Top sets are treated
more favourably whilst bottom sets are blamed
for their own failure.
Hargreaves who studies the counter subcultures that pupils develop in response to
Andy Walker Learning Online
Criticisms of labelling theory
It ignores important structural factors
such as class inequality.
It underestimates counter school culture.
Paul Willis claims working class boys
choose to fail because school achievement
isn’t valued in their culture.
There is little empirical evidence to back it
Andy Walker Learning Online
Important point to note
 Intelligence, cultural deprivation theory
and labelling theory have also all been
used to attempt to explain the relative
underachievement of certain ethnic
Andy Walker Learning Online