Assess the Claim That Class Differences in Educational Achievement Are Primarily the Result of External Factors

Topics: Middle class, Social class, Working class Pages: 5 (1540 words) Published: October 22, 2012
ASSESS THE CLAIM THAT CLASS DIFFERENCES IN EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT ARE PRIMARILY THE RESULT OF EXTERNAL FACTORS. In this essay external factors will be assessed. On average, children from middle-class families perform better than working class children. The gap between the grade percentages grow wider as children get older. It is proven that 77% of children from a higher professional background achieve five or more A*-C at GCSE. Whereas only 35% children from a routine background achieve five or more A*-C grades at GCSE. These statistics show that there is a persistent gap in the achievement levels of working class and middle class pupils. There are two factors related to home background that sociologists argue may lead to differences in a pupils educational achievement. The first is CULTURAL FACTORS. Some sociologists argue that most of us begin to acquire the basic values, attitudes and key skills that are needed for educational success through primary socialisation in the family. However, these sociologists also believe that many working class families fail to socialise their children in the right way. Therefore these children are ‘culturally deprived’. The three main areas of cultural deprivation are intellectual development, language, and attitudes and values. Intellectual development was discovered by a sociologist called Douglas. Douglas conducted a longitudinal study of 5362 children born in 1964. He followed them through primary and secondary school and found that children of the same measured ability at age 7 varied a great deal at age 11 depending on their social class. He basically found that working class did badly and middle class did well. Douglas also found that working class pupils were less likely to continue in further education after the age of 16. Douglas believed that middle class children receive more attention and stimulus from their parents in their early years. Douglas believed that working class parents took their children to parks in the day time, put them in front of the television, and gave them not very educational toys. He also believed that middle class parents gave their children a ‘head start’ by taking them to museums, libraries and bought them educational toys, like jigsaw puzzles and talking toys. Linguistic deprivation is a theory argued by Basil Bernstein. Bernstein believed there are two types of language used. Restricted code: Typically used by working class people, they use limited vocabulary, and use short simple sentences. The speech is predictable and context bound (which means the speaker assumes the listener shares same views/experiences) Elaborated code: Typically used by middle-class people, the speaker has a wider vocabulary and speech is varied. Context free (which means the speaker does not assume the listener shares same views/experiences and uses language to explain meanings) Bernstein believed that the success of a pupil depends heavily on language. The ability to read and understand books, to write clearly and to be able to explain yourself fully in both speech and writing are key language skills required for success in education. If these skills are not developed in the family, then a child will be at a disadvantage in education. Teachers in schools are more likely to use context free elaborated code, as it is more descriptive and explanatory. Also, the elaborated code is the typical way of speaking for the middle class, and not many working class people will become teachers. However, some pupils may not understand the elaborated code and may switch off preventing learning in the classroom. The elaborated code may benefit middle class students after school, for example in college, university and job interviews. Middle class students can express themselves better which then gives a better impression than maybe one of a working class background could not. Attitudes and values is the third area of cultural deprivation. Some sociologists argue that parents’ attitudes...
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