Sociology

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Nazeefah Nazir Ali
Outline some of the ways in which labelling process may lead to educational under-achievement for some people The explanations of differential educational achievement that have been examined so far suggest that pupils’ progress is influenced by factors over which they have little control. Yet the most obvious place to look for explanations is within the education system. Schools play an important role in determining the success of failure of an individual’s education. There are many factors which lead to the under achievement for some people, these fall under three main categories Genetic, External and Internal. The focus of my essay will be to outline factors leading to under achievement through internal factors. Interactionists have researched the day to day life in schools. They do not think individuals are influenced by things outside their control, but according to Interactionists you need to look at how teachers and pupils interact and how this affects the pupils self concept. Teachers are seen as very significant as they make initial judgments of pupils, labelling them which consequently leads to pupils acquiring an identity for themselves. Hence internal factors are seen as crucial in determining the educational attainment of pupils and the inequalities between them. The internal factors include Labelling, The self-fulfilling prophecy, Pupil subcultures and Marketisation and Selection policies. All these factors can be seen as having a knock-on effect on each other. To label someone is to attach a meaning and definition to them. Teachers may label a pupil as bright or thick, hardworking or troublemaker. Studies show that teachers often attach such labels regardless of pupil’s actual ability or attitude. Labels are attached on the basis of stereotyped assumptions about their class background. Working class pupils are labelled negatively and middle class positively. Interactionists’ sociologists have carried out studies of labelling. Interactionists study small-scale face-to-face interactions between individuals, such as in the classroom or playground. They are interested in how people attach labels and the effects this has on those who are labelled. Becker (1971) based on interviews with 60 Chicago high school teachers it was found that they judged pupils according to how closely they fitted the image of the ideal pupil. Pupils work conduct and appearances were key factors influencing teachers’ judgements, those from Middle Class backgrounds were closer to the ideal pupil than Working Class. In relation to this Keddies study reflected how Labelling can be applied not just to pupils but also to the knowledge they are taught. Classes are streamed by ability and Keddy found that although teachers believed they were teaching all pupils in the same way, the higher streams were given more abstract, theoretical and high status knowledge. The less able streams were given descriptive common sense knowledge which created differences in educational attainment. Labelling then leads on to Self fulfilling prophecies, it is a prediction that comes true simply by being labelled as much. Interactionists argue that labelling can affect pupils’ achievement by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hargreaves used an example to illustrate the self-fulfilling prophecy. Firstly he speculated how the teacher labels a pupil and on the basis of this label they make predictions about them. The teacher then treats the pupil accordingly, acting as if the prediction is already true. The step is Stabilisation; the pupil internalises the teacher’s expectations, which becomes part of their self-concept or self image. The pupil now becomes the kind of pupil the teacher believed them to be in the first place, the prediction is fulfilled. Once a pupil finds a self concept for themselves this then leads onto developing a subculture; a pupil subculture is a group of pupils who share similar values and behaviour patterns. Pupil...
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