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High School and Education Essay

1a) Cultural Deprivation

-Intellectual Development: development of thinking and reasoning skills. Theorists would argue that many WC homes lack educational books, toys and activities that would help stimulate a child’s intellectual development. Douglas- WC pupils scored lower on test of ability, as their parents are less likely to support their children’s intellectual development. Bernstein and Young- mothers choose toys that influence intellectual development. Criticism: WC may not be able to afford these toys etc. -Language: children fail to develop necessary language skills and grow up incapable of abstract thinking and unable to use language to explain, describe, enquire and compare. Restricted & Elaborated code; Bernstein. MC have an advantage as the elaborated code is used by teachers, text books and exams. Also MC pupils are already fluent speakers (socialisation) so they ‘feel at home’ in school and are more likely to succeed. Criticism: Bernstein describes WC speech inadequate. -Attitudes and Values: Parents attitudes and values are a key factor affecting educational achievement.

Douglas- WC parents place less value on education. Feinstein- the lack of interest is more important than financial hardship or factors within school. Many WC subcultures have different goals, beliefs, attitudes and values from the rest of society. Hyman- WC subculture is a self-imposed barrier to educational success. Sugerman- Fatalism, Collectivism, Immediate Gratification, Present-time Orientation. WC children internalise the beliefs and values of their subculture through the socialisation process meaning under-achievement. -Compensatory Education: Policy designed to tackle the problem of CD by providing extra resources to school and communities in deprived areas. E.g. Sure Start, Education Action Zones etc. Criticism: Don’t see the real cause of under-achievement (poverty and material deprivation).

-Criticisms: Keddie; CD is a myth and blames victims. A child cannot be deprived of their own culture they are just culturally different. Troyna and Williams; teachers have a ‘speech hierarchy’ where MC speech is highest. Blackstone and Mortimore; parents attend fewer parent evenings as they may work longer hours/less regular hours or put off by school’s MC atmosphere. Also may not help their children’s progress as they lack the knowledge. -Studies show that WC children are more likely to leave school from the age of 16 and are less likely to go on to sixth form and university. Also working-class children are more likely to start school unable to read, and are more likely to fall behind in reading, writing and number skills.

1b) Material Deprivation

-Referred to poverty and lack of material necessities (housing/income). -Stats; 32% of WC students were considering moving out of the family home to attend university. 90% of failing schools are in deprived areas. 33% of those receiving free school meals got 5 or more A*-C GCSE grades. 90% of ‘failing’ schools are located in deprived areas. -Housing- overcrowded housing means less space to do work, play, sleep etc, and greater risk of accidents. -Diet and health- lower intakes of energy, vitamins and minerals.

Poor nutrition -> weaker immune system -> lowering children’s energy levels -> get ill easier (poor attendance at school). WC children are more likely to have behavioural or emotional problems. -Financial Support- WC children lack equipment and miss out on school trips. They also make do with hand-me-downs (results in being stigmatised/bullied). Children living in poverty take on jobs (baby sitting, cleaning, paper rounds) which has a negative impact on their school work. Also very few go on to university. The government has tried to tackle this problem, e.g. EMA, raising the school leaving age and providing free-school meals. -Criticisms: Ignores internal factors and cultural deprivation.

1c) Cultural Capital

-Bourdieu suggested MC culture is as valuable in educational terms as economic capital. The forms of knowledge, values, ways of interacting and communicating ideas that MC children possess are developed further and rewarded by the education system (qualifications).WC have a lack of cultural capital which leads to exam failure. They also ‘get the message’ that education isn’t meant for them thus they truant/leave school early/provide no effort. -Education, economic and cultural capital can be converted into one another. E.g. MC children with cultural capital are better equipped to meet the demands of school and gain qualifications.

Wealthier parents can convert their economic capital into educational capital by sending their children to private schools, and paying extra tuition. -Gewirtz: sees how greater parental choice of school has benefited one social class more. Study; 14 London schools with interviews from parents and teachers. She found that differences in economic and cultural capital lead to class differences in how far parents can implement choice of secondary school. She identifies three main types of parents; privileged-skilled choosers (MC parents who used their economic and cultural capital to gain educational capital for their children), disconnected-local choosers (WC parents whose choices were restricted by their lack of economic and cultural capital), and semi-skilled choosers (mainly WC who were ambitious for their children but lacked cultural capital).

Internal Factors (class difference)

2a) Labelling

-Attaching a meaning to someone. Teachers often attach labels regardless of their ability or attitude. -Howard Becker- Did a study based on interviews with 60 Chicago high school teachers; they judge pupils to what they think is the ‘ideal pupil’. WC children were furthest (regarded as badly behaved). -Cicourel and Kitsuese- Did a study of educational counsellors in an American high school; they claimed to judge students according to their ability, however, they judged students on their social class/race- MC have more potential than WC children.

-Rist- Did a study of an American kindergarten; the teacher used information about children’s background and appearance to place them into separate groups. At the front was the ‘tigers’ (MC, given complex work), ‘cardinals’ and then the ‘clowns’ (given easy work like drawing). -Sharp and Green- Did a study about a ‘child-centred’ primary school; children picked their own activities, teachers felt when a child is ready to learn they will seek help. However, teachers believed that children who weren’t ready should engage in ‘compensatory play’. Their findings support the interactionist view that children of different class background are labelled differently. They argue that the negative labelling of the WC is also the result of inequalities in wider society.

2b) Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

-A prediction that comes true because it has been made. Step 1: Teacher labels pupil and makes predictions. Step 2: Teacher treats the pupil accordingly. Step 3: Pupil internalises the teacher’s expectation which becomes part of their self-concept/image, and becomes the kind of pupil the teacher believed (prediction is fulfilled). -Streaming: involves separating children into different ability groups (streams). Each group is taught differently. Studies show that the self-fulfilling prophecy is likely to occur once streamed. WC children are usually put in a lower stream as they aren’t ‘ideal pupils’. It is difficult to move up into a higher stream thus are locked into their teachers expectations -> self-fulfilling prophecy as the children live up to their teachers expectations by under-achieving.

2c) Pupil Subcultures

-A group of pupils who share similar values and behaviour patterns. They emerge as a response to the way pupils have been labelled (reaction to streaming). -Lacey: Differentiation- process of teachers categorising pupils according to their ability/attitude/behaviour. Polarisation- process in which pupils respond to streaming by moving towards one of the two opposite extremes. Pro-school subculture- placed in higher streams, remain committed to the values of school and gain status through academic success. Anti-school subculture- placed in lower streams, have inferior status. -Hargreaves: There are two distinctive subcultures: Conformists and Non-conformists delinquents (a delinquent subculture that helped guarantee their educational failure).

-Woods: argues that rather than seeing pupil subcultures as either conformist or deviant, it is more realistic to see a variety of possible adaptations/responses to the schooling process. Pro-school: Ingratiation (pupils who try to earn the favour of teachers), Opportunism (those who vary between teacher and peer approval), Compliance (pupils who conform for instrumental reasons), Ritualism (pupils who go through the motions), Colonisation (pupils who avoid trouble, but will deviate if there is less punishment).

Anti-school: Ritualism, Retreatism (not opposed to school values, but not concerned about achieving success), Colonisation, Intransigence (deviate and aren’t bothered about the consequences), Rebellion (pupils have little regard to school values and reject school teachings). -Ball: found that when the school abolished banding, the basis for pupils to polarise into subcultures was largely removed and the influence of the anti-school subculture declined. However, differentiation continued. As a result, class inequalities can continue due to teachers labelling. -Limitations: Deterministic: assumes that once pupils are labelled, they have no choice but to fulfil the prophecy and will inevitably fail. Ignores wider structures of power: blames teachers for labelling pupils but fails to explain why.

2d) Marketisation and Selection Policies

-Marketisation is a policy that introduces market forces of supply and demand into areas run by the state. Marketisation has brought in; Funding formula (giving a school the same amount of funds for each pupil), Exam League Tables (ranking schools based on their exam performance), Competition among schools to attract pupils. -A-C Economy: Schools need to achieve a good league table position to attract pupils and funding. However, this widens the class gap in achievement. The A-C economy is a system in which schools ration their time, money, effort and resources to those who will get 5 A*-C GCSEs to get a high rank. -Educational Triage: sorting pupils; ‘those who will pass anyway’, ‘those with potential’, ‘hopeless cases’. Those classed as hopeless cases are ignored (self-fulfilling prophecy and failure).

-Competition and Selection: Schools with a good league table position will be placed to attract other able/MC pupils. Thus improves the school’s results and makes it more popular which increases funding. Popular schools can afford to screen out less able and more difficult pupils, unpopular schools are obliged to take the, get worse results, and get less funding. Cream skimming: selecting higher ability pupils, who gain the best results and cost less to teach. Silt-shifting: off-loading pupils with learning difficulties, who are expensive to teach and get poor results.

-Attraction: creating school contracts to attract parents, buying things like pipe organs to get a ‘traditional’ image of the school (attracting the MC), grant maintained and city technology colleges provide vocational education in partnership with employers (another route to elite education). Ball et al suggests that schools spend more on marketing themselves to parents, and spend less in special needs in other areas. -Marketisation and selection – created a polarised education system, with successful, well-resourced schools at one extreme, and failing un-resourced schools at the other; blurred hierarchy.

External Factors (ethnic differences)
3a) Cultural Deprivation

-Intellectual and linguistic skills: Major cause of under-achievement. Many children from low-income black families lack intellectual stimulation and enriching experiences. This leaves them poorly equipped for school because they have not been able to develop reasoning and problem-solving skills. Also the language used by black children in inadequate for educational success. Also those who don’t speak English at home may be held back educationally. However, Mirza and Gillborn note that Indian pupils do very well despite not having English as their home language. -Attitudes and Values: Lack of motivation is a major cause of the failure of black children. Many children are socialised in a mainstream culture of ambition, competitiveness and willingness to make scarifies to achieve long-term goals.

Black children are socialised into a fatalistic subculture. -Family structure: Failure to socialise children adequately is the result of dysfunctional family structure. Many black families are headed by a lone-mother; their children are deprived of adequate care because she has to struggle financially due to the absence of the male breadwinner. The absence of the father also leads to the absence of the positive role model. Charles Murray: would lead to the under-achievement of some minorities. Pryce: Asian pupils are higher achievers because their culture is more resistant to racism and gives them a greater sense of self-worth. Black culture is less cohesive and less resistant to racism. Thus they have low self-esteem and under-achieve.

-Asian families: Driver and Ballard: they bring educational benefits as the parents have more positive attitudes towards education, higher aspirations and are therefore more supportive. Lupton: respectful behaviour towards adults was expected from children, and had a knock-on effect in schools. Khan: parents are ‘stress ridden’, bound by tradition, and controlling. -Criticisms: Driver: ignores positive effects of ethnicity on achievement. Lawrence: black pupils under-achieve because of racism not self-esteem. Keddie: victim-blaming theory. They under-achieve because schools are ethnocentric and favour white culture. Compensatory Education: it is an attempt to impose on the dominant white culture on children who have a culture of their own. Critics propose 2 alternatives: Multicultural education: recognises values of minority cultures and includes them in the curriculum. Anti-racist education: challenges the prejudice and discrimination that exists in schools and wider society.

3b) Material Deprivation

-Stats: 1) Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are more likely to be in low-paid jobs. 2) 15% of ethnic minority households live in overcrowded conditions. 3) Unemployment is three times higher for African and Bangladeshi/Pakistani people. -Gillborn and Mirza argue that social class factors don’t ignore the influence of ethnicity. When we compare pupils of the same social class but different ethnic origins, we still find differences in achievement.

3c) Racism in Wider Society

-David Mason: ‘Discrimination is a continuing and persistent feature of the experience of Britain’s citizen’s of ethnic minority origin’. -Rex: shows how racial discrimination leads to social exclusion and how this worsens the poverty faced by ethnic minorities. E.g. housing; minorities are more likely to be forced into substandard accommodation than whites. -Noon: two people with the same qualifications and experience applied for a job. However, the white person got the job, rather than the Indian. Thus shows that ethnic minorities are more likely to face unemployment and low pay.

Internal Factors (ethnic differences)

4a) Labelling and Teacher Racism

-Interactionists: They see that teachers picture an image of the ‘ideal pupil’. But they see that black and Asian far from the ideal pupil. This leads them to label black pupils as disruptive and aggressive, and Asian pupils as passive and a problem they can ignore. -Gillborn and Youdell: due to racialised expectations, teachers were quicker to discipline black pupils than others for the same behaviour. -Black pupils: Teachers misinterpreted their behaviour as threatening/challenge to authority. Pupils then responded negatively and further conflict resulted. This may be why many black pupils are excluded, and their stereotypes may cause them to be in lower sets (under-achievement). -Asian pupils: Teachers assumed that they would have a poor grasp of English and left them out of class discussions or used simplistic childish language. They also felt isolated when teachers mispronounced their names or teachers expressed disapproval of their customs.

4b) Pupil Responses and Subcultures

-Fuller: Study of a group of black girls in year 11. Found that the girls conformed as far as school work was concerned. They worked consistently, but gave the appearance of not doing so (positive attitude to academic success, but preferred to rely on their own efforts than teachers). Fuller sees that pupils may still succeed even when they refuse to conform, and negatively labelling doesn’t always lead to failure (no self-fulfilling prophecy). -Mirza: Study of ambitious girls who faced teacher racism. The study failed as their coping strategies restricted their opportunities and thus under-achieved. She found that racist teachers discouraged black pupils from being ambitious through the kind of career advice that was given to them.

The colour blind: teachers who believe all pupils are equal but allow racism got unchallenged. Liberal chauvinists: teachers who believe black pupils are culturally deprived and had low expectations of them. Overt racists: teachers who believe blacks are inferior and discriminate against them. -Sewell: Four ways in which boys respond to racist stereotyping: Rebels (rejected both the goals and rules of school, conforming to the stereotype of the ‘black macho lad’. Saw white boys as effeminate), Conformists (keen to succeed, accepted the school’s goals and avoided stereotypes from teachers or their peers), Retreatists (disconnected from both school and black subcultures), Innovators (pro-education but anti-school).

4c) The Ethnocentric Curriculum

-Ethnocentric: attitude/policy that gives more value to one culture and ignores the rest. -The curriculum is very ethnocentric (favouring white culture). E.g. in teaching languages; non-European languages are ignored (also other cultures in literature, art and music). However, in history, black history is taught, but it is focused on slavery. This may produce lower self-esteem to black pupils as this image of black people as inferior undermines them and may lead to failure.

4d) Institutional Racism

-Institutional racism: discrimination that is built into the way institutions operate. -Schools tend to set schemes for the gifted and talented, and vocational schemes for the less academic e.g. black and Asians.

External Factors (gender differences)
5a) Girls

-Feminism: McRobbie shows that magazines in the 1970’s emphasised the importance of getting married. Whereas, nowadays, they contain images of assertive, independent women. Also soap operas now highlight the importance of self-esteem and personal choice for young women. -Family: Sine the 1970’s there have been major changes in the family. For example: an increase in divorce rates, increase in cohabitation and a decrease in the number of first marriages, increase in the number of lone-parent families (female-headed) and smaller families. These changes affect girl’s attitudes to education. Such as: the increase in female lone-parent families may mean more women need to take on the breadwinner role. This creates a new adult role model for girls- the financially independent.

To achieve this, women need well-paid jobs, and thus good qualifications. Also the increase in divorce rates suggests that girls can make their own living. -Employment: 1970 Equal Pay Act (illegal to pay women less for the same job as men), Sex Discrimination Act. Women’s employment has risen due to the service sector and flexible part-time work. 1975- The pay gap between men and women has increased. Women are now breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’ (keeps them out of high-level professional managerial jobs). -Ambitions: Sharpe- study involved conducting interviews with girls in the 1970’s and 1990’s. In the 1970’s the girls felt that education with unfeminine and if they were interested, it would make them unattractive. In the 1990’s, the girl’s ambitions had changed, and thought careers are more important as they can support themselves.

5b) Boys

-Feminisation of education: Schools do not nurture ‘masculine’ traits such as competitiveness and leadership. Also coursework has created differences in educational achievement. -Shortage of male primary school teachers: Strong positive male role models both at home and at school cause may cause
under-achievement. 16% of men are primary school teachers. 42% said they made them work harder. Yet, Myhill and Jones found they felt male teachers treated boys harshly. -‘Laddish’ subculture: WC boys are more likely to be labelled as sissies and subjected to homophobic verbal abuse if they appeared to be ‘swots’. Boys were more concerned to be labelled by peers than girls, as it is a threat to their masculinity. Thus, WC boys rejected schoolwork to avoid being called ‘gay’. Epstein- ‘real boys don’t work’ if they do, they get bullied.

Internal Factors (gender differences)
6a) Girls and Achievement

-Equal opportunities policies: Policies such as GIST and WISE encourage girls to pursue a career in non-traditional areas. The National Curriculum has removed one source of gender inequality by making girls and boys study mostly the same subjects. Also schooling has become meritocentric. -Positive role models: The increase in female teachers shows that women can achieve positions of importance and giving them non-traditional goals to aim for. -GCSE and coursework: Girls are more successful in coursework as they are more conscientious and better organised. Sociologists argue that these characteristics and skills are the result of early gender socialisation. E.g. girls are likely to be encouraged to be neat, tidy and patient. This puts girls in a better place as they achieve greater success.

Elwood- not the only cause of the gender gap. -Teacher attention: Teachers paid more attention to boys as they are attracted to reprimands. This may explain why teachers have more positive attitudes to girls, whom they see as cooperative, than to boys, whom are seen as disruptive. This may lead to self-fulfilling prophecy in which successful interactions with teachers promote girls self-esteem and raise the achievement levels. -Challenging stereotypes in the curriculum: Sexist images have been removed from learning materials.

This may help raise girl’s success levels- more positive images of what women can do. -Selection and league tables: Girls are more likely to be recruited from good schools as they are more attractive to schools. This may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. -Feminists: Liberal- See that further progress will be made by the continuing developments of equal opportunities, and see education is a meritocracy. Radical- System still remains patriarchal. E.g. sexual harassment continues, education still limits their subject choice and career options, females are less likely to become head-teachers.


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