1) CLASS DIFFERENCES IN ACHIEVEMENT – EXTERNAL FACTORS
Most sociologists use parental occupation to determine a pupil’s social class:
Middle class – or non-manual occupations include professionals such as doctors or teachers, together with manages and other “white collar” office worker and owners of businesses.
Working class – or manual occupations include skilled workers such as plumbers, semi-skilled workers such as lorry drivers and unskilled or routine workers such as cleaners.
Explaining class differences
Children from middle class families perform better than working class children on average, and the class gap in achievement grows wider with age. Centre for Longitudinal Studies (2007) – by the age of three, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are already up to 1 year behind those from a more privileged home. Middle class children do better at GCSE, stay longer in full time education and take the great majority of university places. Sociologists are interested in why this is.
Internal factors – factors within schools and the ed system, such as interactions between teachers and pupils, and inequalities between schools.
External factors – outside the ed system, such as the influence of home and family background and wider society.
Most of us acquire basic values, attitudes and skills needed for ed success through primary socialisation in the family. “Cultural equipment” includes language, self-discipline and reasoning skills. According to cultural dep theorists, working class families fail to socialise their children adequately = “culturally deprived.” Therefore, they underachieve. Three main aspects:
Bereiter and Engelmann (1966) – claim that language used in lower class families is deficient, they communicate by gestures/single words/disjointed phrases and children fail to develop necessary language skills as a result.
Bernstein (1975) Restricted code – typically used by working class, limited vocab & short/unfinished/grammatically simple sentences. Speech is predictable and may involve only a single word or gesture. It is descriptive rather than analytic and also context-bound: the speaker assumes that the listener shares the same set of experiences.
Elaborated code – used by middle class, wider vocab & longer/grammatically more complex sentences. Speech is more varied and communicates abstract ideas. It is context free: doesn’t assume same experiences so language used to spell out their meanings explicitly.
Middle class advantaged since elaborated code used by textbook/teachers/exams and seen as the correct way to speak/write. Bernstein sees it as effective for analysing & expressing thoughts clearly. Middle class socialised early into elaborated code so feel at home in school and are more likely to succeed, whereas working class feel excluded. He is criticised for being a cultural deprivation theorist (working class inadequate) but recognises that the school fails to teach them how to use elaborated code.
2. Parents Education
Douglas (1964) – working class parents place less value on education.
Middle class parents better educated so give an advantage to their children by how they socialise them:
2. Parenting Style
Emphasises consistent discipline and high expectations of their children and supports achievement by encouraging active learning. Less educated parents…