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Title: EDUCATIONAL%20ACHIEVEMENT%20AND%20UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT


1
EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AND UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT
Sociology Revision Lectures
Explanations This lecture focuses mainly on
class but touches on gender and race.
2
Explaining Under-Achievement 2
EXPLAINING UNDER-ACHIEVEMENT
  • Many different explanations of under-achievement
    have been put forward over the last 50 years.
  • The under-achievement of a group can involve more
    than one factor.
  • Individuals are members of three groups class,
    gender and ethnicity, e.g. a white working class
    male. He/she will be affected by all of these.

3
Explaining Under-Achievement 3
TYPES OF EXPLANATION
There are 4 main explanations for
under-achievement. Explanations for class and
race are often similar.
  • NON-SOCIOLOGICAL
  • Psychological (20th century) or
  • Biological (19th century) intelligence or
    natural differences between the sexes
  • SOCIOLOGICAL
  • Home background (cultural or material
    deprivation, or natural differences between the
    sexes)
  • Schooling (the hidden and formal curriculum)
  • Wider inequalities

4
Explaining Under-Achievement 4
NON-SOCIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS
  • The earliest explanations were not sociological,
    but psychological and biological.
  • Psychologists argued that some groups were
    simply more intelligent than others, therefore
    they did better in IQ tests and at school.
  • The groups doing best in IQ tests were white,
    male and middle class.

5
Explaining Under-Achievement 5
CRITICISMS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS
  • These explanations have been criticised.
  • There is little evidence to support them, e.g.
    Douglas found that upper middle class pupils
    obtained twice as many O Level passes as lower
    working class children with the same measured IQ.
  • Some groups have improved their performance, e.g.
    girls and black pupils. Psychological theories
    cannot explain how this happens.

6
Explaining Under-Achievement 6
HOME BACKGROUND CULTURAL DEPRIVATION
  • The earliest sociological explanation of
    under-achievement blamed the home background of
    the working class.
  • It focussed on the values and attitudes of the
    working class (more recently on black
    single-parent families).
  • This was called CULTURAL DEPRIVATION.

7
Explaining Under-Achievement 7
HOME BACKGROUND CULTURAL DEPRIVATION
  • This explanation argued that the working class
    lacked the necessary attitudes for educational
    success. A number of factors were cited, but
    particularly a lack of parental interest in their
    childrens education.
  • The most famous research here is Douglas
    longitudinal study.

8
Explaining Under-Achievement 8
HOME BACKGROUND MATERIAL DEPRIVATION
  • This explanation has been very influential.
  • However, Douglas work has been criticised
    because of the way he measured parental
    interests whether parents visited the school.
  • Both cultural factors (lack of confidence) and
    material factors (e.g. shift work) could prevent
    parents from doing this.

9
Explaining Under-Achievement 9
HOME BACKGROUND MATERIAL DEPRIVATION
  • An alternative explanation is that MATERIAL
    DEPRIVATION (lack of money, poor health or
    housing) would disadvantage certain groups.
  • Halsey set out to test the relative importance of
    cultural and material factors in a survey of the
    working class.
  • He found material factors central to whether
    pupils stayed on at school beyond 16.

10
Explaining Under-Achievement 10
CRITICISMS OF HOME BACKGROUND EXPLANATIONS
  • These theories were very influential until the
    1970s, but came under attack
  • Interactionists argued that they ignored the
    meaning of education to groups of pupils.
  • Many writers also argued that they ignored what
    went on in schools.

11
Explaining Under-Achievement 11
THE FORMAL AND HIDDEN CURRICULUM
  • The study of schooling involved looking at both
    the formal and hidden curriculum.
  • Initially researchers were more interested in the
    hidden curriculum.
  • In the 1970s interactionists began to study what
    went on in classrooms.

12
Explaining Under-Achievement 12
HIDDEN CURRICULUM INTERACTIONISTS
  • They found that teachers stereotyped (labelled)
    pupils in lower streams in grammar schools,
    secondary mods, and comprehensive schools.
  • This tended to produce low expectations of
    pupils.
  • They argued that pupils accepted these labels and
    developed anti-school cultures.

13
Explaining Under-Achievement 13
HIDDEN CURRICULUM CRITICISMS
  • This explanation pointed out that pupils were
    affected by what went on in school and not just
    at home.
  • Marxists criticised these explanations for not
    explaining why the WORKING class were in lower
    streams and why they were the group which was
    labelled.
  • They argued that interactionists ignored power.

14
Explaining Under-Achievement 14
FORMAL CURRICULUM
  • Marxists agreed that the hidden curriculum
    affected pupils, but argued that it reflected the
    values of the ruling class.
  • They argued that this also applied to the FORMAL
    curriculum, which was a SELECTION of knowledge
    based on what the ruling class considered
    valuable.

15
Explaining Under-Achievement 15
FORMAL CURRICULUM
  • Because of this working class children found
    themselves learning knowledge which they did not
    feel was relevant, and which was not based on
    what they already knew.
  • As a result working class children lacked
    CULTURAL CAPITAL and did less well in school.
  • This legitimated their lower position in the
    class structure.

16
Explaining Under-Achievement 16
STRUCTURAL EXPLANATIONS (WIDER INEQUALITIES
  • Functionalist and Marxist explanations have both
    argued that working class children are bound to
    do less well in school.
  • This is a preparation for their future role in an
    unequal society. These are structural
    explanations.
  • For functionalists this is inevitable and
    meritocratic. Schools select the best for the
    most important jobs.

17
Explaining Under-Achievement 17
STRUCTURAL EXPLANATIONS
  • For Marxists, this is essential to the capitalist
    system failure at school justifies a role at the
    bottom of the social class structure.
  • Bowles and Gintis argue that the schooling you
    get corresponds to your future role in
    production.
  • Willis however argues that working class boys see
    through all of this.

18
Explaining Under-Achievement 18
STRUCTURAL EXPLANATIONS
  • Willis lads realise that schooling is
    irrelevant to them, and muck about.
  • They develop anti-school cultures, but not
    because of teacher labelling.
  • This is more of an interpretist explanation
    because it looks at schooling through the eyes of
    the lads.

19
Explaining Under-Achievement 19
CONCLUSION
  • There are 3 sociological explanations here home
    background, schooling and wider inequalities.
  • These explanations have criticised each other,
    and each has been influential at different times.
  • Now researchers would accept that all three have
    played a part in the under-achievement of the
    working class, which continues in 2000.

20
Explaining Under-Achievement 20
REVIEW QUESTIONS 1 - 3
Answer 1
  • 1. Identify the three sociological explanations
    of under-achievement.
  • 2. What was the most important factor in working
    class failure for Douglas?
  • 3. According to Halsey, what was the role of
    material deprivation?

Answer 2
Answer 3
Repeat Lecture
21
Explaining Under-Achievement 21
REVIEW QUESTIONS 4 - 6
  • 4. How did teacher labelling affect working class
    children according to interactionists?
  • 5. What does it mean to say that working class
    children lacked cultural capital ?
  • 6. What is a structural explanation?

Answer 4
Answer 5
Answer 6
Repeat Lecture
22
Explaining Under-Achievement 22
REVIEW QUESTION 1 ANSWER
  • The three explanations are
  • Home background (cultural and material
    deprivation)
  • Schooling (the formal and hidden curriculum)
  • Wider inequalities (structural theories)

Back to Question 2
Repeat Lecture
23
Explaining Under-Achievement 23
REVIEW QUESTION 2 ANSWER
  • According to Douglas, the most important factor
    was a lack of parental interest in how their
    children did in school.
  • This was usually, but not always, associated with
    the working class.
  • This explanation was called CULTURAL DEPRIVATION

Back to Question 3
Repeat Lecture
24
Explaining Under-Achievement 24
REVIEW QUESTION 3 ANSWER
  • Halsey argued that material deprivation prevented
    working class children from staying on beyond 16.
  • He wrote this before the 1990s, when there has
    been a big increase in the percentage of working
    class children staying on, possibly because of a
    lack of alternatives i.e. no jobs.

Back to Question 4
Repeat Lecture
25
Explaining Under-Achievement 25
REVIEW QUESTION 4 ANSWER
  • According to interactionists, working class
    pupils developed negative attitudes to school
    anti-school cultures, because of negative teacher
    attitudes and labelling.
  • Research on ethnic minority pupils and girls has
    not found that these groups always accept teacher
    labels.

Back to Question 5
Repeat Lecture
26
Explaining Under-Achievement 26
REVIEW QUESTION 5 ANSWER
  • Working class children did not have the same
    knowledge in their home background that they
    found at school and did not do as well as they
    might.
  • Middle and ruling class children did better
    because they were already familiar with the kind
    of knowledge required.

Back to Question 6
Repeat Lecture
27
Explaining Under-Achievement 27
REVIEW QUESTION 6 ANSWER
  • A STRUCTURAL explanation is one which argues that
    education reflects wider inequalities in the
    structure of society.
  • Schools prepare people for their future role in
    society. For the working class, this is a role
    at the bottom of an unequal society.
  • This seems fair to them because they fail.

Back to Question 1
Repeat Lecture
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