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Investigate the concept of the academic failure of working class boys, as it is a recent development that not only reflects under achievement of boys but academic success of girls.

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Rationale I will investigate the concept of the academic failure of working class boys, as it is a recent development that not only reflects under achievement of boys but academic success of girls. My motivation has been influenced by observing a lower ability classroom and viewing low school SATs results related to gender indicating the academic failure of working class boys, I am intrigued to why this is so. David Hargreves, looked at the reasons for the failure of working class boys and suggested one of the reasons for this was the way in which teachers and pupils interact with each other. Therefore I will be taking an Interactionalist perspective. My aim is to find the key factors contributing to the failure of working class boys within Coventry schools using concepts of social class and gender. I will use the research conducted by Mac an Ghail as it deals with both social class and gender. This will inform my method which will be based on non-participant observation. (151) Concepts and Context Since the early 1990's statistics taken from education authorities indicated that the academic success of males has decreased, they have continued to be out performed by girls at most levels of the education system with the exception of physics at A levels. More recent statistics taken from the 1999 G.C.S.E's indicate that more girls than boys gained additional A*-C grades this supports my hypothesis of working class boys academically failing. David Hargreves's study from 1967 "Social Relations in a Secondary School" suggests that deviant subcultures develop as a pupil reaction to labelling. They are predominantly found in bottom streams of secondary schools already labelled low stream failures. They are unable to achieve status in terms of the mainstream values of the school so they substitute their own set of values by which they can achieve success in the eyes of their peers. ...read more.


I shall examine six lessons, four bottom set and two higher sets and then make a comparison, I would however like to observe more classes but time is not on my side, I feel that along with Willis' research I can make an accurate generalisation. I have decided to conduct my experiment in one of the science laboratories as I feel that there is adequate space and as mentioned in my rationale I had previously observed a table of SATs results from the science department indicating the academic failure of working class boys. There are certain ethical issues that I would have to take into consideration when conducting this kind of observation. The teachers and some pupils may think that I am judging them on their behaviour, and may therefore feel threatened by my presence in the classroom. Having already had some experience regarding non-participant observations as mentioned in my rationale I still intend to conduct a pilot study to iron out any problems. Obviously, problems do materialise so I will have the perfect opportunity to resolve these prior to running my final study. (811) Analysis The aim of the investigation was to discover the reason for the academic failure of working class boys. I attempted to collect information through non-participant observation of several classrooms. The first issue to be raised would be times spoken to about behaviour negatively. The numbers suggested that boys are more badly behaved than girls, which I knew anyway. The results differed dramatically in each lesson. In some lessons the lads where warned every five minutes whereas in other lessons they were just left to get on with it. This could be to do with teaching styles and this might be one of the problems. This method of just letting them get on with it and maybe they will calm down could create a self-fulfilling prophecy, the lads might think that they could get away with it permanently. ...read more.


It has affected my results as there was not a true representation of both of the sexes, so it is impossible to make an accurate generalisation about the reasons why working class boys are academically failing. Another concern was the fact that each of my observations only lasted for 50 minutes, which is not really long enough to make a generalisation. I think I needed to carry out more observations, with the same groups, maybe for a week just to make them more reliable. I think that the time of day that I carried out the observation can have a dramatic affect on the results, first thing Monday morning is going to have a completely different atmosphere compared with the lesson before break and lunch or the last lesson on a Friday afternoon. If I were to study them for a week I would be able to take all of this information into account and interpret it with far more accuracy. If I were to further this experiment given time, I would have conducted structured interviews with some of the male students in the class. My final conclusion is that working class boys are academically achieving because they chose to have success in the eyes of their friends and therefore are not focussed on the task set. However, it is not entirely clear how true this statement actually is. There are many other factors that can affect a pupils achievement such as discrimination and domestic problems. (676) to see if there are other reasons for the academic failure of boys particularly these characterised by Willis on part of an "anti school culture" I will use Paul Willis research and concepts as a basis for my study as I am particularly keen to see if there are other reasons for the academic failure of boys particularly these characterised by Willis on part of an "anti school culture". ...read more.

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