Social class differences in educational achievement Essay

Assess sociological explanations for social class differences in educational achievement (24 marks) It can be explained that some social class differences within pupils can have an effect on the educational achievement of a child. I will therefore evaluate these factors In my essay. The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) theory is used to clearly identify intelligence. It can be measured accurately via IQ tests. The data produced by this test Indicates clear social class differences in intelligence.

It can be seen that those from working-class grounds have weaker intelligences, drawn from the IQ tests than middle-class students.Research on identical twins suggests that up to 80% of the variation In intelligence among individuals can be explained by genetic factors. Environmental factors, therefore, are less Important than Inherited IQ as determinants of Intelligence.

This theory can be criticized as some sociologists may state that intelligence cannot be defined clearly or accurately by IQ tests. These tests may be culturally biased. Some students may also not be at their best when they take the tests, whereas, there may not take the tests seriously.Students’ IQ test scores can improve with practice, suggesting that they do not measure fundamental intelligence. The relative Importance of genetic and environmental factors In determining intelligence is unknown but genetic factors are likely to be as significant as suggested by IQ theorist. Some studies suggest working class students with high IQ scores are soul more likely to leave school at an early age, thus suggesting environmental factors are important. The relative educational underachievement of working class students Is explained by heir cultural deprivation.

Bernstein sought the distinction between the restricted code and the elaborated code. The elaborated code is the one which, in the adult language, would be generally associated with formal situations, the restricted code that associated with informal situations. It was implied that middle-class children generally use the elaborated code (although only the restricted code. But Bernstein later modified this viewpoint to say that even working-class children might sometimes use the elaborated code; the difference teen the classes is said to lie rather in the occasions on which they can use the codes, e. . Working-class children certainly have difficulty in using the elaborated code in school.

Moreover, all children can understand both codes when spoken to them. Labor [1969], however, has argued that young blacks in the United States, although using language which certainly seems an example of the restricted code, nevertheless display a clear ability to argue logically. They can set out a complex set of arguments in a few words, and the full force of opinions comes through. In addition, Labor notes the common faults of middle-class speech.He believes that in many ways working-class speakers are more effective narrators, reasons, and debaters than many middle-class speakers who tempore, qualify, and lose their argument in a mass of irrelevant detail. These theorists can be criticized by saying that it may be that many middle class students do not have to defer gratification to achieve educational success. They may be well supported financially. Theories based upon cultural deprivation may present inaccurate stereotypes of both working class and middle class life.

These theories detract attention from other explanations based upon material circumstances, cultural difference and the organization of the schools themselves. Working class students may experience a range of adverse material circumstances which lower their chances of any educational attainment. Such factors include: low birth weight, fewer pre-school playgroups and nurseries in working class areas, greater risk of poor diet, undernourishment, tiredness, sickness and absence from school. Absence may be caused by the need to care for sick siblings because parents Anton afford to take time off work.Working-class pupils may feel forced to take part- time paid work which interferes with studies, whereas, for middle-class pupils this is optional rather than necessary.

Some students have no quiet room for study which reduces their concentration levels of doing any work and therefore are unable to produce work at their greatest potential. It is very common amongst the working- class pupils of parents being unable to afford certain things for their children. This includes: relevant books, trips or personal computers, part-time private tuition or full mime private education and housing in catchments areas of most effective schools.This allows the more richer children to have the apprehend over these deprived children as they are missing out on the more basic supplies which could provide a great deal of help during their studies. Middle-class parents and students have no fear of debts associated with higher education such as going to university compared to working-class pupils who do not see this as a possible option. Disadvantage not because their culture is deprived or inferior but because it is different. Willis’ study focuses mainly on 12 male working-class non-examination students in a midlands secondary modern school in the sass’s.The study has been said to be based on a combination of structure and agency.

Willis argues that the main reason for the relative educational under-achievement of these pupils is that they have actively chosen a future involving hard, unskilled manual work as a means of confirming their masculinity. The boys have realized that examination passes would in any case not improve their employment prospects substantially but they have not liaised the long term disadvantages of unskilled manual work.Here their behavior is influenced by the structure of society. For Willis, their culture is different to middle class culture but this does not mean that the boys are culturally deprived. Others may criticism Willis by saying that he conducts a very small scale study on 12 non-examination “lads” who are, to say the least, rebellious and unlikely to be representative of working class pupils as a whole. The attitudes and values of the lads’ parents may also be unrepresentative of working class parental attitudes in mineral.

In the mid asses ,unskilled manual work was widely available but the mass unemployment of the asses and early asses and the decline of manufacturing industry will have changed attitudes to employment for many, if not all, working class boys. Willis was himself a young researcher at the time and this may have helped him to gain the boys trust but it is also possible that Willis may have accepted some of the boys stories rather too readily. Willis had little to say about working class girls. Some Interactions did a small scale, qualitative research based primarily on observation.They based their study on the effects of in-school factors on pupil achievement although pupils’ social class background may well affect teachers’ perceptions of them, therefore tried to see the effects of pupil-teacher interaction. They saw the importance of streaming, banding, setting and mixed ability teaching. Some things they found in the class which had an effect on the pupils were positive and negative labeling and self-fulfilling prophecies.

They found that it is working class and some ethnic minority students who are most likely to be negatively labeled.These Interactions can be criticized by saying small scale studies based mainly on observation may be unreliable, unrepresentative and invalid. Some later studies (e. G. O’Donnell and Sharpe) suggest negative labeling is now less frequent but other sociologists disagree. The interactions tend to argue that negative labels will be passively accepted but in practice negatively labeled students may not automatically accept the negative labels applied. Interactions do not explain why teachers apply negative labels to some pupils but not others.


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