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Assess The View That Material Deprivation Is The Most Important Barrier To Educational Attainment.

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Assess The View That Material Deprivation Is The Most Important Barrier To Educational Attainment. Material deprivation is a lack of money, which leads to disadvantages, such as unhealthy diet and a lack of materials such as computer and textbooks. J.W.B Douglas examined education of 5,362 British children and grouped the children in terms of their ability, which was measured by IQ tests. He then divided them into four social class groupings and found significant variations between students of a similar ability but who were from different social backgrounds. Douglas believed that underachievement in education was related to a number of factors. These were the students health, the size of the students family and the quality of the school they attended. With health, working class children tend to have a poor diet, which leads to ill health. This in turn, leads to poor attendance and therefore children cannot catch up on work missed and so underachieve in exams. The size of the student's family is linked to underachievement because there is less money to spend on material objects for example textbooks and computers, and to an extent, personal tutors. There is also less room at home to do homework, as they may have to share a room with siblings, and so there is no-where quiet they can go to do homework. ...read more.


In Britain, pre-school education began in the late 1960's with the government allocating extra resources for school buildings in the low-income areas and higher wages for the teachers working in those areas. Educational Priority Areas (EPA's) were based mainly on pre-school education and additional measures in primary schools to raise literacy standards. Another explanation for low educational attainment is called the "Labelling Theory". This was introduced by Becker, who believed that the teacher's interaction with their pupils could affect the way pupils behaved towards authority and school rules. The labelling theory states that teachers and school processes "label" pupils as either intelligent or not able, and in theory the pupils live up to these perceptions. This is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. This relates to low educational attainment as pupils labelled as deviant should therefore act deviant, and go against school rules and authority. This means that they will fail exams on purpose, therefore underachieving at school. It has been suggested that norms and values of social classes influence performance in the educational system. Hyman found that members of the working class place a lower value on educations. They place less emphasis on formal education as a means to personal achievement and they see less value in continuing school beyond the minimum leaving age. ...read more.


The major role of the education system is cultural reproduction. This doesn't involve the transmission of the culture of society as a whole, but the reproduction of the Bourgeoisie (the rich). Bourdieu refers to the Bourgeoisie as cultural capital, because via the educational system it can be translated into wealth and power. Therefore, students with upper class backgrounds have a built in advantage because they have been socialised into the Bourgeoisie. He says that education doesn't start from scratch, but uses skills and knowledge prior to being at school. Children from upper classes have internalised these skills and knowledge during their pre-school years and they possess the key to unlock the messages transmitted in the classroom. This means that students from upper classes have a higher success rate than the middle class students. Bourdieu believes that a major role of the education system is eliminating the working class from higher levels of education. This is accomplished by examination failure and self-elimination. As they have a relative lack of dominant culture, working class pupils are much more likely to fail examinations which stops them from going into higher education. This leads me to believe that although material deprivation is an explanation of low educational attainment, it is not the main barrier to working class achieving at school. It is one of several factors which all add up to working class underachieving at school. :) Rose Lewis 12JDN :) ...read more.

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