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How is the Educational Performance of the Working-Class affected by their in-school experience?

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Introduction

How is the Educational Performance of the Working-Class affected by their in-school experience? Members of the Woking-Class tend to do worse than members of the upper and middle classes in terms of educational performance. In every ethnic group and regardless of gender, middle class pupils do better in academic examinations than working class pupils (Institute of Education, 2000). The working-class deficiency in achievement can be explained through investigating in-school factors and experiences- namely labelling, streaming and subcultures. Some sociologists, such as Willis and Cohen, say that the creation of subcultures amongst working class students leads to poorer educational performance. Other sociologists, including Hargrevaes, discuss the role of structural factors such as streaming and setting within schools as a cause of differential educational achievement. Finally, sociologists such as Abraham, Nash and Becker would point to the role of teacher-student interaction and labelling within the causing in causing differential achievement. It can be said that working class pupils underperform due to negative labelling within schools, resulting in a self fulfilling prophesy of failure (Rosenthal and Jacobsen, 1968) and in turn lower educational achievement. Nash (1972) argued that the role of the teacher within education was active, and helped to determine the outcome of education- with a strong correlation between how a teacher (positively) ...read more.

Middle

Streaming and setting placed pupils of a similar ability into the same class. Ball (1981) found that the pupils within the top streams and bands tended to come from higher social classes, perhaps due to the positive labels they received as a result of their higher class background. On the other hand, working class pupils were more likely to end up in lower bands and classes. This meant that they were taught differently from those in the higher bands, with teachers setting lower expectations for them- resulting in lower educational achievement. Hargreaves (1975) also found the same correlation between higher sets/streams and higher social class, using this to develop a theory on subcultures. Keddie (1973) found that lower sets and streams and in turn working class pupils were 'knowledge deprived' as they were only given access to lower-standard knowledge, and were given easier work. She argued that this resulted in working-class and lower-band students being unable to perform well in academic examinations as they were denied access to the higher-level material necessary for higher grades. Streaming and setting also increased the likelihood of the development of anti-school and deviant subcultures, due to the difficulty in gaining high-level status in lower bands (Cohen, 1960), resulting in status frustration. ...read more.

Conclusion

values system. Sub-cultural theories can also be criticized for being too deterministic- as not all working-class pupils fall into subcultures, and upper-class pupils also have their own, and in some cases, equally non-conformist subcultures. From a general research methods perspective, the theories presented can all be questioned for being both quantitative and interpretivist- with the same problems as previous theories discussed. In conclusion, it can be said that although the performance of working class pupils is to a good extent impacted if not worsened by the effects of in-school factors, it must be noted that other causes, mainly out of school factors, must also be taken into account when trying to determine the causes for working-class underachievement in education. New Left and Marxist sociologists would emphasis the role of material factors, such as material deprivation, as well as structural factors, such as exploitation in underperformance, while New Right and Functionalists would see underperformance as a result of the working of the meritocratic system which penalizes working class pupils for their language deprecation and reliance upon the state. Although in-school factors do play a role, other factors must be considered in order to reach a balanced and credible picture of working class underachievement in education. ?? ?? ?? ?? Edwin Loo 13K 06/12/2007 Sociology Essay Page 2 of 2 ...read more.

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