Rhetorical Analysis: Jean Anyon, Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work
Jean Anyon is a professor of educational policy in the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She wrote this essay for the Journal of Education in 1980 with the main audience being professional educators. Through this essay she portrays his observations of five elementary schools in which he concluded, over a full school year, that fifth graders of different economic backgrounds are already being prepared to occupy particular rungs on the social ladder.
There are three types of schools: working-class, middle-class, and affluent professional. Anyon begins by giving us general stereotypes of each of the “classes”; statistics and average income of families of different social status. In working-class families with low social or economic status, the children are more likely to become assembly line operatives, auto mechanics, and stockroom workers. These children are taught in a very mechanical way, one thing after another simply to retain the necessary requirements to graduate. They are not given any chance for thought or constructive change, just one thing after another. Steps are given to reach the answers and the kids have to copy everything exactly the way the teacher does or they will be considered wrong without a second thought. This is what is known as working-class, in which Anyon places the first two schools. In this type of schooling “approximately 15 percent of the families in each school are at or below the federal “poverty” level; most of the rest of the family incomes are at or below $12,000.” (ANYON 172) I can’t say one way or the other to these statement because I have never experienced or seen poverty first hand but I can empathize with this situation.
In middle-class families or “middle management” “the population is a mixture of several social classes.” (ANYON 172) This type of schooling teaches kids that there is only one right answer or way to do...
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