Factors affecting education (Internal (Pupils identities and school (“…
Factors affecting education
Class differences in achievement start early on in life.Studies have shown that by the age of three, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are already up to one year behind those from more privileged backgrounds. This gap widens with age.
Some sociologists argue that this is the result of cultural deprivation - some children lack the basic skills of language, self-discipline and reasoning which should be developed by the primary agency of socialisation - the family.
The way that parents communicate with their children affects their cognitive (intellectual) development and their ability to succeed at school.
Hubbs-Tait et al (2002) found that where parents use language that challenge their children’s evaluation skills (i.e. what do you think? Are you ready for the next step?), cognitive performance improves.
Leon Feinstein (2008) found that educated parents did this far more often.In contrast, less educated parents tend to use language where the child is only required to be descriptive (what colour is this? What is that animal called?). This reduces cognitive performance.
Cultural deprivation theorists see these language differences as linked to social class.
Carl Bereiter and Siegfried Engelmann (1966) claim that language used in lower-class families is deficient. They suggest that these families often use gestures, single words or disjointed phrases.
As a result, their children fail to develop the necessary language skills. They are unable to think abstractly, use language to explain, describe, enquire or compare. Therefore, they are unable to take advantage of the opportunities that schools provide.
Basil Bernstein (‘75) also identifies differences between working-class and middle class language that influence achievement. He names two types.
The restricted code
Typically used by working class.
Based on use of short, often unfinished, grammatically simple sentences.
May only be a single word or even a gesture
Descriptive, not analytic
Context bound: Speaker assumes listener shares same set of experience
The elaborated speech code
Typically# used by middle class
Wider vocab, longer sentences, more complicated grammar
Speech is varied and communicates abstract ideas
Context free, so speaker uses language to explain the meanings clearly for the listener.
According to cultural deprivation theorists, it is often it is working class families that fail to socialise their children adequately - they will grow up culturally deprived.
Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviors and skills that one can tap into to demonstrate one's cultural competence, and thus one's social status or standing in society.
Many sociologists argue that it is poverty, not an inadequacy in working-class subculture that is the main cause of underachievement.
Barely a third of FSM pupils (widely used as a measure of class and income) achieve 5 or more GCSEs at A*-C against nearly two thirds of other pupils
Jan Flaherty argues that money problems are a significant factor in young children’s non-attendance at school
Exclusion and truancy are far more likely for poorer families.
A third of all persistent truants leave school with no qualifications
Nearly 90% of all ‘failing’ schools are located in deprived areas.
Overcrowding may make it hard for a child to study as there is less room for educational activities, nowhere to do homework or could lead to disturbed sleep.
Young children’s development can be impaired through lack of space for safe play.People living in temporary accommodation may move frequently, causing disruption to their education.
Children living in poor housing are at higher risks of accidents.
Cold and damp can cause bad health. Increased health problems leads to increased time away from school.
Diet and Health
Marilyn Howard (2001) says that children from poorer homes have poorer nutrition. This can weaken the immune system and lower energy levels.
Children from poorer homes are also more likely to have emotional and behavioural issues. Richard Wilkinson (1996) argues that among 10 year olds, the lower the social class, the higher the rate of hyperactivity, anxiety and conduct disorders.
Lack of resources
Can’t afford private tuition
Can’t afford textbooks etc
Fear Of Debt
Won’t go to Uni.
Won’t go on school trips
Labelling in Education -
Teachers label students based on their backgrounds and compare them to an “ideal student”.
The ideal changes depending on the school/ area/ students that attend the school.
In a working class school, an ideal student is about behaviour - quiet, passive, obedient.
In a middle class school, most children are well behaved and so the ideal is based on academic intelligence.
Labelling in primary schools.
Ray Rist, saw a teacher separated their students into tigers and clowns (MC and WC mostly respectively)
Labelling turns into a self fulfilling prophecy:
Teacher treats student in accordance with label.
Student internalises the label and acts in accordance
Student changes their behaviour, fulfilling the prophecy
Dunne and Gazeley: saw teachers taking fatalistic stance towards WC students, seeing them as doomed to fail.
Criticisms of labelling theory
Accused of determinism: Says children have no choice and will always act in correspondence with their label. However this is not always true.
Marxists also criticised labelling theory for ignoring the wider structures of power within which it takes place.
Labelling theory blames teachers for using labels but fails to explain why. Marxists argue that labels are not merely the result of teacers individual prejudices but stem from the fact that teachers work in a system that reproduces class division
Streaming in education
A-C economy - Gillborn and Youdell.
Schools focus on these children
Emerged from marketisation, wouldn’t exist without league tables.
Nell Keddie said that those students who are in the top streams, get ‘high status knowledge’.
Lower streams get only lower status knowledge, less complicated language and education.
Ties into labelling theory as lower class students tend to fall into the lower streams, and so the class divide in success is reinforced.
Differantiation and Polarisation - Lacey
Colin Lacey looked into how pupil subcultures can exist.
Differentiation - Refers to the way that teachers categorise or ‘differentiate’ between pupils according to stereotypes about ability, appearance etc.
Streaming is a form of differentiation as well as ‘Foundation’ & ‘Higher’ tier exam differentiation.
Polarisation - this is way that pupils respond to differentiation – moving towards 2 extremes (polar opposites)
In his study of Hightown boys’ grammar school, Lacey found that streaming led boys to create a pro-school or an anti-school subculture
Anti School Subcultures
Students who create an anti-school subculture have often been labelled as failures, and therefore seek alternative ways of gaining status. This often means inverting the school’s values of hard work, obedience and punctuality.
How can this lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy?
David Hargreaves (1967)
found that boys who had been placed in lower streams were ‘triple failures’: they had failed their 11+, they had been placed in low streams and they had been labelled as ‘worthless louts’. In anti-school subcultures, status went to the boys who had flouted the rules.
Stephen Ball ‘81
Ball studied Beachside, a comprehensive that was in favour of mixed-ability groups, and abolished streaming.
Differentiation still existed as teachers continued to label middle class and working class students differently.
Middle class students continued to do better in exams, which suggests that class inequalities continued as a result of labelling alone.
Four Responses to Education - Woods:
Ingratiation: Teachers pets, embracing of education and
Ritualism: Indifferent in education, may embrace or reject but doesn’t act out, school is just a ritual to them
Retreatism: Doesn’t engage, bit distant from schools, little bit of mucking around etc.
Rebellion: completely rejects education, truant and misbehaved.
John Furlong 1984, observes that many students actually move between these responses.
Pupils identities and school
A concept from Bourdieu
Refers to learned ways of thinking and acting.
Shared by a particular social class, and is the way they behave
Includes tastes and preferences around lifestyle and consumption (fashion etc). They have their own expectations about what is normal about ‘people like us’.
It is formed as a response to one’s position within the class structure.
Symbolic Capital and Symbolic Violence
In contrast, the school devalues working class habitus. Bourdieu calls the withholding of symbolic capital from working class students ‘symbolic violence’. The working classes are kept in their place, maintaining the class structure.
Archer et al found that often working class students had to change the way they talked and presented themselves in order to be successful, potentially losing their identity in the process. University and professional careers were seen as ‘not for the likes of us’.
Students who have been raised into the middle class habitus will enter school with symbolic capital - status and recognition from the school.
“ Nike” Identities.
Symbolic violence may lead some to choose alternative ways of creating self-worth. Instead they invest heavily in ‘styles’, especially through branded clothing, like Nike.
Styles were heavily policed by peers - the right appearance brought its own symbolic capital amongst the group
Yet, it conflicted with the school’s dress code, which reflected the school’s middle class habitus. These students risked being labelled as rebels.
To the middle class, the ‘Nike’ identity was tasteless, to the working classes they created self-worth
Rejection of higher education
Archer also found that working class students rejected higher education for two reasons:
It was unrealistic, because it was not for ‘people like us’. They believed that they would not fit in. It was also seen as unaffordable
It was undesirable because it did not fit their preferred lifestyle or habitus. They preferred to spend their money on the street styles that gave them their identity and status.
According to Archer et al, working class students have not only been rejected from education, they themselves have actively chosen to reject it because it does not fit in with their way of life.