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EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AND UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT Explanations This lecture focuses mainly on class but touches on gender and race. Sociology Revision Lectures.

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Presentation on theme: "EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AND UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT Explanations This lecture focuses mainly on class but touches on gender and race. Sociology Revision Lectures."— Presentation transcript:

1 EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AND UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT Explanations This lecture focuses mainly on class but touches on gender and race. Sociology Revision Lectures

2 Explaining Under-Achievement 2 Many different explanations of under- achievement have been put forward over the last 50 years. The under-achievement of a group can involve more than one factor. Individuals are members of three groups: class, gender and ethnicity, e.g. a white working class male. He/she will be affected by all of these. EXPLAINING UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT

3 NON-SOCIOLOGICAL –Psychological (20th century) or –Biological (19th century): intelligence or natural differences between the sexes SOCIOLOGICAL –Home background (cultural or material deprivation, or natural differences between the sexes) –Schooling (the hidden and formal curriculum) –Wider inequalities Explaining Under-Achievement 3 TYPES OF EXPLANATION There are 4 main explanations for under-achievement. Explanations for class and race are often similar.

4 Explaining Under-Achievement 4 The earliest explanations were not sociological, but psychological and biological. Psychologists argued that some groups were simply more intelligent than others, therefore they did better in IQ tests and at school. The groups doing best in IQ tests were white, male and middle class. NON-SOCIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS

5 Explaining Under-Achievement 5 These explanations have been criticised. There is little evidence to support them, e.g. Douglas found that upper middle class pupils obtained twice as many O Level passes as lower working class children with the same measured IQ. Some groups have improved their performance, e.g. girls and black pupils. Psychological theories cannot explain how this happens. CRITICISMS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS

6 Explaining Under-Achievement 6 The earliest sociological explanation of under- achievement blamed the home background of the working class. It focussed on the values and attitudes of the working class (more recently on black single- parent families). This was called CULTURAL DEPRIVATION. HOME BACKGROUND: CULTURAL DEPRIVATION

7 Explaining Under-Achievement 7 This explanation argued that the working class lacked the necessary attitudes for educational success. A number of factors were cited, but particularly a lack of parental interest in their children’s education. The most famous research here is Douglas’ longitudinal study. HOME BACKGROUND: CULTURAL DEPRIVATION

8 Explaining Under-Achievement 8 This explanation has been very influential. However, Douglas’ work has been criticised because of the way he measured parental interests: whether parents visited the school. Both cultural factors (lack of confidence) and material factors (e.g. shift work) could prevent parents from doing this. HOME BACKGROUND: MATERIAL DEPRIVATION

9 Explaining Under-Achievement 9 An alternative explanation is that MATERIAL DEPRIVATION (lack of money, poor health or housing) would disadvantage certain groups. Halsey set out to test the relative importance of cultural and material factors in a survey of the working class. He found material factors central to whether pupils stayed on at school beyond 16. HOME BACKGROUND: MATERIAL DEPRIVATION

10 Explaining Under-Achievement 10 These theories were very influential until the 1970s, but came under attack: Interactionists argued that they ignored the meaning of education to groups of pupils. Many writers also argued that they ignored what went on in schools. CRITICISMS OF HOME BACKGROUND EXPLANATIONS

11 Explaining Under-Achievement 11 The study of schooling involved looking at both the formal and hidden curriculum. Initially researchers were more interested in the hidden curriculum. In the 1970s interactionists began to study what went on in classrooms. THE FORMAL AND HIDDEN CURRICULUM

12 Explaining Under-Achievement 12 They found that teachers stereotyped (labelled) pupils in lower streams in grammar schools, secondary mods, and comprehensive schools. This tended to produce low expectations of pupils. They argued that pupils accepted these labels and developed anti-school cultures. HIDDEN CURRICULUM: INTERACTIONISTS

13 Explaining Under-Achievement 13 This explanation pointed out that pupils were affected by what went on in school and not just at home. Marxists criticised these explanations for not explaining why the WORKING class were in lower streams and why they were the group which was labelled. They argued that interactionists ignored power. HIDDEN CURRICULUM: CRITICISMS

14 Explaining Under-Achievement 14 Marxists agreed that the hidden curriculum affected pupils, but argued that it reflected the values of the ruling class. They argued that this also applied to the FORMAL curriculum, which was a SELECTION of knowledge based on what the ruling class considered valuable. FORMAL CURRICULUM

15 Explaining Under-Achievement 15 Because of this working class children found themselves learning knowledge which they did not feel was relevant, and which was not based on what they already knew. As a result working class children lacked CULTURAL CAPITAL and did less well in school. This legitimated their lower position in the class structure. FORMAL CURRICULUM

16 Explaining Under-Achievement 16 Functionalist and Marxist explanations have both argued that working class children are bound to do less well in school. This is a preparation for their future role in an unequal society. These are structural explanations. For functionalists this is inevitable and meritocratic. Schools select the best for the most important jobs. STRUCTURAL EXPLANATIONS (WIDER INEQUALITIES

17 Explaining Under-Achievement 17 For Marxists, this is essential to the capitalist system: failure at school justifies a role at the bottom of the social class structure. Bowles and Gintis argue that the schooling you get corresponds to your future role in production. Willis however argues that working class boys see through all of this. STRUCTURAL EXPLANATIONS

18 Explaining Under-Achievement 18 Willis’ ‘lads’ realise that schooling is irrelevant to them, and muck about. They develop anti-school cultures, but not because of teacher labelling. This is more of an interpretist explanation because it looks at schooling through the eyes of the ‘lads.’ STRUCTURAL EXPLANATIONS

19 Explaining Under-Achievement 19 There are 3 sociological explanations here: home background, schooling and wider inequalities. These explanations have criticised each other, and each has been influential at different times. Now researchers would accept that all three have played a part in the under-achievement of the working class, which continues in 2000. CONCLUSION

20 Explaining Under-Achievement 20 1. Identify the three sociological explanations of under-achievement. 2. What was the most important factor in working class failure for Douglas? 3. According to Halsey, what was the role of material deprivation? REVIEW QUESTIONS 1 - 3 Repeat Lecture Answer 1 Answer 2 Answer 3

21 Explaining Under-Achievement 21 4. How did teacher labelling affect working class children according to interactionists? 5. What does it mean to say that working class children lacked “cultural capital” ? 6. What is a structural explanation? REVIEW QUESTIONS 4 - 6 Answer 4 Answer 5 Answer 6 Repeat Lecture

22 Explaining Under-Achievement 22 The three explanations are: –Home background (cultural and material deprivation) –Schooling (the formal and hidden curriculum) –Wider inequalities (structural theories) REVIEW QUESTION 1: ANSWER Back to Question 2 Repeat Lecture

23 Explaining Under-Achievement 23 According to Douglas, the most important factor was a lack of parental interest in how their children did in school. This was usually, but not always, associated with the working class. This explanation was called CULTURAL DEPRIVATION REVIEW QUESTION 2: ANSWER Back to Question 3 Repeat Lecture

24 Explaining Under-Achievement 24 Halsey argued that material deprivation prevented working class children from staying on beyond 16. He wrote this before the 1990s, when there has been a big increase in the percentage of working class children staying on, possibly because of a lack of alternatives: i.e. no jobs. REVIEW QUESTION 3: ANSWER Back to Question 4 Repeat Lecture

25 Explaining Under-Achievement 25 According to interactionists, working class pupils developed negative attitudes to school: anti-school cultures, because of negative teacher attitudes and labelling. Research on ethnic minority pupils and girls has not found that these groups always accept teacher labels. REVIEW QUESTION 4: ANSWER Back to Question 5 Repeat Lecture

26 Explaining Under-Achievement 26 Working class children did not have the same knowledge in their home background that they found at school and did not do as well as they might. Middle and ruling class children did better because they were already familiar with the kind of knowledge required. REVIEW QUESTION 5: ANSWER Back to Question 6 Repeat Lecture

27 Explaining Under-Achievement 27 A STRUCTURAL explanation is one which argues that education reflects wider inequalities in the structure of society. Schools prepare people for their future role in society. For the working class, this is a role at the bottom of an unequal society. This seems fair to them because they fail. REVIEW QUESTION 6: ANSWER Back to Question 1 Repeat Lecture

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