“Outline and assess the view that teacher labelling causes social class differences in education” Labelling was a concept originally developed by Becker. He believed that if someone is constantly labelled as a ‘thief’ or ‘smarty pants’, then this will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Rosenthal and Jacobsen (1968) carried out an experiment to test the idea of labelling and self-fulfilling prophecies. They administered a test to a class of pupils and split it equally in two groups based on ability. They then told the teachers that one group was of a higher ability than the other. When the researchers returned a year later to see the effects of labelling, the ‘higher ability’ group had actually achieved better test scores. This supports the idea of labelling and this study also proves how effective they can be. The higher ability group would have been paid more attention and would have been referred to more positively by the teachers, therefore creating a master status. A master status was another concept developed by Becker and this is where a label is so powerful and poignant, that it becomes the persons main status, for example, ‘liar’. Keddie agrees with Rosenthal and Jacobsen on how the labelling theory can promote social class inequalities. He believes that the creation of teacher labels and their perceptions of ability can create a different process. This is because labelling can have a negative impact on a child’s view towards education, depending on what they have been labelled as, i.e. troublemaker, noisy or stupid. These are examples of negative labels and these can lead to social class inequalities.
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