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Discuss the relationship between social class and educational achievement.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Discuss the relationship between social class and educational achievement. Paljinder Kaur Bath. Many sociologists have tried to explore the link between social class and educational achievement, measuring the effects of one element upon the other. In order to maintain a definite correlation between the two, there are a number of views, explanations, social statistics and perspectives which must be taken into account. The initial idea would be to define the key terms which are associated with how "social class" affects "educational achievement." "Social class" is the identity of people, according to the work they do and the community in which they live in."Educational achievement" is the tendency for some groups to do better or worse in terms of educational success. Research reveals that the higher the social class, the higher the levels of educational achievement are likely to be. The children of parents in higher social classes are more likely to stay on in post compulsory education, more likely to achieve examination passes when at school, and more likely to gain university entrance. These features painted a true picture of British education in the twentieth century and can be argued to follow this trend today. However, whether there has been any reduction in the inequalities is more debatable, but some research suggests that these inequalities are as great as ever, despite the overall improvements within the education system.

Middle

Interactionalists argue that we need also to look into the classroom, where it is believed that perspective class differences in educational attainment are socially constructed in the classroom. One of the most important views is the way teachers respond to, view and make sense of pupil's behaviour. Howard Becker (1977) found from interviews with sixty Chicago teachers, that teachers tended to have and share an ideal picture of the ideal pupil: "highly motivated," "intelligent," and "well behaved." The pupils who fitted into this picture were likely to come from the middle classes and those furthest from the ideals were of the working class. Thus, he found that the working class children were often "labelled" as being "unmotivated" and "unlikely to succeed." He therefore concluded that working class pupils might be at a disadvantage. Further evidence to support the effects of teacher's expectations upon their pupils can be found in the famous study of Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968). The teachers of an elementary school were told that they had to identify a number of pupils-the "spurters"-as likely to make rapid progress. Unknown to the teachers, the pupils were selected at random. The results found that a year later, the "spurters" did indeed make better progress than their classmates. Thus, Rosenthal and Jacobson concluded that their progress was due to the way they were defined.

Conclusion

work. Bernstein's study on speech codes is an example of an outside school factor, which affects educational achievement. Bernstein suggested that schools are conducted in an elaborated code, but children of working class backgrounds have a restricted code. He suggested that their parents socialise them into this, and goes further to say that this is ultimately the roots in the nature of their parents work. In contrast, the language of the school and teachers are of an elaborated nature. We could say that the two factors of this debate have no correlation due to the support of the structuration theory. A follower of this theory is Paul Willis, who used the "lads" actively to reject school and school values (such as academic success). This has its roots outside of school in the nature of the fathers and elder brothers' in manual work. They look up to these figures and see school as "sissy", un-masculine, unlike the "real" masculine work that their fathers, brothers etc do. Overall, in conclusion there can be no definite correlation identified between "social class" and "educational achievement" in that there is much research into this and many sociologists suggest their own theories, and have yet not decided whether there is a link or not. However, there does seem to be correlation of some kind as sociologists either favour it or not. It can be still said that the main relationship between these factors is the higher the social class; the more likely the pupil is going to succeed.

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