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Outline and assess the view that the way schools and teaching are organised is more important than external influences, such as the home, in explaining working-class underachievement.

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Introduction

Kirstine Duncan A2 Sociology Outline and assess the view that the way schools and teaching are organised is more important than external influences, such as the home, in explaining working-class underachievement. Working class pupils' underachievement at school may be due to the way school life is structured and the information is delivered. Teachers will use methods of communication that are unfamiliar to working class children which puts them at an immediate disadvantage as the education system is automatically biased against them. Bernstein found differences in the way middle class and working class people communicate. He referred to these as 'codes,' stating that working class people are largely limited to using the 'restricted code' and the middle class the 'elaborated code.' The restricted code is a type of shorthand speech, which is often used between family and friends when the other party in the conversation shares the same common assumptions. In restricted speech sentences are often short or unfinished, information is taken for granted, there is little detail and explanations are not given. The elaborated code is rich in detail and explanation, is very specific and understood by everyone. ...read more.

Middle

Although the Rosenthal and Jacobson study is highly valued, their methodology is often seen as sub-standard as the IQ tests were unreliable and poorly administered. Some have suggested that labelling was of little or no significance after attempts to replicate their study produced mixed results. However, many sociologists believe that labelling is significant, and the self-fulfilling prophecy can help explain class differences in educational achievement. Later research shows that there are more factors to be considered. Hargreaves argues that what matters is if the label is accepted by the pupil or 'sticks.' What determines this is; how often the pupil is labelled, whether they value that teacher's opinion, the extent to which others support the label and whether the labelling occurs in public or private. Bird found that pupils more readily accepted academic labels than behavioural ones. Working class children, particularly boys, are often judged to have an attitude problem according to recent research by Troyna. Labelling theory suggests that working class pupils often see these negative labels as a master status, gaining the pupil attention and admiration from their peers that have adopted an anti-learning/ school attitude, evidence of this is found in Willis's study of working class boys. ...read more.

Conclusion

Working class children are more likely to be brought up in an environment where there is less emphasis put on the importance of education and there is an attitude of instant gratification, whilst their middle class counterparts will be taught to defer their gratification. Deferring gratification is a value that coincides with the education system. From an interpretive approach, class differences in attainment are socially constructed and result from the assessment of pupils in terms of teachers' perceptions of social class, ability and conduct. Personally, I think that the values the child inherits or learns from their parents are the most important factor in how much they achieve in education. However, there are so many factors influencing a child that it will often depend upon the individual personality of the pupil as to how much they achieve. To make a generalisation, the working classes do seem to be at an immediate disadvantage as the education system is geared towards the middle class knowledge and values. Whether they are superior or not, it is the middle class attitude that fairs the best in our education system. I think there are many exceptions to broad generalisations such as this, but I think that the working classes are pre-disposed to do less well in education due to their values learned outside of the education system. ...read more.

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