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Where should we look to explain working class failure? Essay

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From a consensus perspective societies are held together by a common interest between the people therefore society’s institutes like schools serve this function i. e. everyone’s interests. From a conflict perspective society is viewed very differently, it’s seen as a power battle between rich/poor and powerful/weak. They also view society’s institutes in this way e. g. schooling does not serve everyone’s interests according to the needs of society but instead serves the interests of the middle class and the powerful.

Parents and peers influence academic achievement a great deal the parents values and language skills and the level of education they received has a great deal to do with how they view their Childs educational attainment. The parents economic position influences how the children are brought up many parents who live in poor housing and are unemployed and not very well educated pay less of an interest and encourage there children to do well a lot less than middle class parents.

The teachers influence also effects how pupils perform in the class, children already coming into school labelled as less smarter or thick or pushed aside by the class they already lack motivation and encouragement to succeed. Equal educational opportunities don’t really seem to exist. The working class and the middle class to me don’t have an equal chance and their educational qualifications aren’t based on merit abilities and effort. Most people believe that if a person works hard they should do well no matter what their social background is.

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Equality of opportunity for all might be the ideal on which the British educational system is based on but it is certainly not the reality. Research has shown the higher a person’s class of origin, the greater their chances of achieving high educational qualifications. Social class therefore prevents equality of opportunity in education. The first and probably most important part of the socialisation process, is primary socialisation it lays down patterns of behaviour which may last throughout a person’s life.

Studies by sociologists and psychologists suggest that there are social class differences in childrearing practices which may have important effects on children’s educational progress. The argument runs as follows. Compared to the working class, middle class parents place a greater emphasis on high achievement. They expect and demand more from their children and encourage them to continually improve their performance in areas ranging from childhood games to table manners. They give their children greater individual attention and set higher standards for them to attain.

In general middle class parents tend to place a higher value on education and take a greater interest in their children’s progress than working class parents. In a large scale study by J. W. B Douglas which traced the educational careers of 5,000 British children from birth to aged 16. Middle class parents were more likely to visit the school to discuss their children’s progress. They were also more likely to want their children to stay on beyond the leaving age and encourage them to do so. Children’s pre-school years are important seeing them as a major influence on the early years of schooling.

A Childs performance at the start of their educational career is often reflected throughout the secondary school. The most important factor accounting for educational attainment appeared to be the degree of parent’s interest in their children’s education, cause if this middle class have a decided advantage over working class children. The disadvantages of poverty are passed on from one generation to the next; growth in relative poverty is reflected in a widening of the gap in educational qualifications between the poor and the rest of society.

A number of studies show that the internal organisation of schools and in particular the way pupils are streamed into ability groups can have a direct influence on educational attainment. This view has been examined using n formation from David Hargreaves study social relations in a secondary school. Hargreaves study focuses on the fourth year boys who were divided into four streams 4a, 4b, 4c, and 4d. The boys were placed in streams on the basis of their performance in school examinations and the teacher’s assessment of their ability.

In the eyes of both teachers and boys there is a marked difference of behaviour, attitudes and dress between the higher and lower streams. High stream boys tend to share the values held by the teachers, they approve of pupils who work hard, who not copy forms other, who pay attention in class, obey teachers and have good manners. But messing about is the norm in the lower streams. Boys in the lower streams are given little prestige by those in authority in the school. Hargreaves found that only 5% of the boys in 4d have anything good to say about their teachers.

Lower stream boys not only reject the values of the school but one step further and develop values in direct opposite to them. Being bad becomes good, disrupting lessons; giving cheek to teachers, refusing to do homework, fighting and smoking on the school premises is applauded by many boys in the lower streams. The anti-social peer group is established and members can gain respect from their friends. People have a picture of themselves, a self image or a self-concept. This picture comes in part from the reactions of others towards them.

Thus if others respond to a person as if she were bright or dull, she would tend to see herself as such. People can be labelled by others as a certain type of person, an idiot, a high achiever so on. If the label sticks, if everybody sees the person concerned in terms of the label, a self fulfilling prophecy will tend to develop. The person will be likely to see himself in terms of the label and act accordingly. Both analysis are ‘deterministic’ (i. e. mechanic) in the way they describe pupils behaviour as being passive e. g.

working class failure results from pupils choice to celebrate their culture and rebel against the middle class culture of the school. They do not fail simply because the school devalues them (Marxist view) pupils also do not fail simply because their parents don’t socialise them to succeed (functionalist view) Willis claims that it is not enough for sociologists to study the way society shapes the individual they must also understand the meanings and choices that people make. Although people don’t choose the world their born into they do make their own history i. e. lives with that.

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