Essays sociology education

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Perhaps the first in North America to develop a coherent and comprehensive appraisal of inequality, power, and privilege as impacting schooling, Apple maintains a vigilance inspiring to advocates for a democratic and egalitarian education.

He interpreted and applied the works of Whitty, Bourdieu, Bernstein, Young, and Anyon adding to a literature which would become iconographic in the counter-hegemonic struggle against the intense and extensive weight of social structure. As Bernstein and Young among others have provocatively maintained, the structuring of knowledge and symbol in our educational institutions is intimately related to the principles of social and cultural control in a society Apple, , p. The school process of delivery was to be viewed as political, the curriculum along with its representative courses, texts, and social relations, charged.

Essay: Education Policy and Pupil Achievement

Schooling was never value-free but part of the world of experience. Employing the tools of this new discipline, he deconstructs school pedagogy and curriculum as part of a broader struggle to democratize learning. Apple then speaks out against the racially gendered, class-specific nature of knowledge as evidenced in the ways it privileges the voices of dominant groups. Oppression is something that moves through particular histories, experiences, and ways of life.

Teaching becomes a form of citizenship education that reclaims the notions of struggle, solidarity, and hope around forms of social action. Apple has always investigated public and private life, social groupings, and institutions, unearthing the everyday through a critical lens. Writing out of the new sociology of education, Apple has developed a coherent program and critical following which has changed the course of educational theory.

The continued impact of his influence on the new sociology of education will influence the trajectory for years to follow. The New Sociology of Education. The new sociology of education emerged some 40 years ago in the United States and the United Kingdom. But the new sociology was hardly a unified corpus of critical inquiry.

The school itself constituted a fusion of several conceptual traditions and socio-cultural dynamics, plying new research emphases alongside divisive methodological approaches and theoretical readings of self and society. Nor can the new sociology be credited to one ideological position or ideal. This was not simply a movement inspired by Marxist theory although neo-Marxism would inform the movement to a significant degree. For the acknowledgement that knowledge is produced and disseminated in arbitrary ways, or that education is an arena of political struggle and contestation can hardly be credited to one school alone.

In North America, the new sociology was not profoundly influenced by Marxist theory until the mid-seventies, for it was not until then that the new sociology assumed its truly critical edge—a combination of American revisionist theory Katz , British phenomenology, and critical social theory Wexler, Arguably, when the time arrived, Michael Apple was one of the first scholars in the United States to import and apply the neo-Marxist theories of education and stands as significant influence here.

For as the discussion became richer and more highly textured, educators joined in the skirmish. As Arnot writes:. Central to this debate was the tension between social phenomenology and Neo-Marxist sociological theory, the former offering a view of the micro-negotiations of meanings and the construction of knowledge through practice, the latter exploring the macro-contextualization of such constructions and the political constraints of such possibilities of meanings making.

The early course of the new sociology of Education, then, could hardly be interpreted as homogeneous. Marxists denounce the early phenomenological movement as ahistorical and subjectivist with phenomenologists responding. However, the new sociology might be better appreciated for its critical insights into the familiar, an appeal circumventing debates concerning etiology or pedigree. Teachers served as one of the key audiences as they remained on the front lines of tactical operations and critique. The new sociology arose in defiance of long standing assumptions on school and society.

The study of the school as an egalitarian respite and channel for individual mobility and meritocratic social order, then gave sway to a redefining of school function as a social and cultural reproduction of regimes of inequality. Ideology, reproduction, and resistance emerged as organizing conceptual themes, the sociologist witnessing ways in which school knowledge and practices construct meaning within the classroom. Ideological critique stood as that which conceptually informed various stages in the movement, a movement of shifting emphasis from ideology, 1 to cultural reproduction, and finally towards internal contradiction and resistance.

At the heart of this transcendence was the intensely political nature of school knowledge. Theorists like Michael Young , in Knowledge and Control: New Directions in the Sociology of Education, identified the processes by which knowledge hierarchies were established and validated.

Curriculum was central to this discussion. The structuring power of knowledge was implicated as a force arbitrarily negotiating and sponsoring a cultural authority while underwriting a given social, cultural, and economic order. Teachers at the same time were asked to question the assumptions behind high status knowledge forms, to review the curriculum with a critical eye, and in doing so to develop a sense of critical agency informed through the normative goals of justice and equality.

The arbitrary nature of school knowledge e. Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron echoed this sentiment. In this work, the theorists attempted to explain differences in educational outcomes in Western nations i. Bourdieu promoted that capital acts as a social relation within a system of exchange, and the term is extended to all the goods material and symbolic, or cultural.

The focus here was on the ways in which the ruling ideas or ideals of a social system were related to structures of class, production, and power. These ideas moreover were legitimated and perpetuated through the everyday practice of schooling. Apple contributed to the discourse marking schools as internal mechanisms of sorting and legitimating:.

Schools are an important part of a complex structure through which social groups are given legitimacy and through which social and cultural ideologies are re-created, maintained, and continuously built. The new sociology then examined ways that school knowledge i. As researchers reframed the issues and challenges underpinning modern education, intellectuals like Georg Whitty, and Jean Anyon, weighed in, identifying the structures as formidable and at times seemingly unwieldy. The Coalition has argued that it prioritises increases in educational opportunity for disadvantaged students and in this respect it is important to consider the four following Coalition policy initiatives.

With regard to these policies critics have argued that although useful the Pupil Premium will be insufficient on its own to significantly reduce inequality of educational opportunity and that the abolition of the EMa , the reduction in the umber of Sure Start Places and the increase in HE tuition fees will serve to reduce equality of opportunity. These issues are discussed further in my more detailed documents on Coalition Education Policy. It has been argued that it is middle class children who benefit from the existence of Grammar Schools and working class children who are most disadvantaged by the existence of Secondary Modern schools.

Of course controversies surrounding the relative merits of comprehensive and selective secondary education have intensified due to the support of new Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May for increasing the number of Grammar Schools. Thus although in theory these education policies were designed to increase parental choice there could be no overall increase in parental choice in small towns with only one secondary school or in larger towns and cities where the more popular secondary schools were already full and over-subscribed. In these latter cases critics claim the quasi-marketisation of education has actually benefited middle parents and their children disproportionately since it is these middle class parents who are much more likely to be able to use their cultural, economic and social capital to ensure that the oversubscribed effective state schools themselves would actually choose their children thereby indirectly reducing the educational opportunities of more disadvantaged pupils.

Consequently the claims that as a result of the growth of quasi -marketisation in education the English education system had been transformed into a great parentocracy where individual parental choice was the main determinant of pupils' allocation to schools has been called into question. These issues are described in great detail in a study by S. Gerwirtz, S. Ball and R. It is particularly significant also that a recent report by the House of Common Select Committee on Education has concluded that there is currently no conclusive evidence that the Academies and Free Schools programmes have resulted in any improvement in overall educational standards.

Also, as has been outlined elsewhere on this site, the continued existence of private schools and grammar schools has been criticised as undermining equality of opportunity. There have been several criticisms of the policies of the New Vocationalism introduced by Conservative governments between and However, supporters of the schemes have argued correctly that some useful training has been given which increased the employability of the trainees concerned.

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Nevertheless, more generally, it would perhaps be true to say that all post -war governments and not only the Conservative governments of have given insufficient attention to the needs for industrial training and that this has been one factor which has restricted the long term rate of growth of the UK economy relative to its competitor economies. Critics have also rejected the neo-Conservative analysis of the defects of the education system. Furthermore it has been argued, most notably by Marxists, that a neo-Conservative approach to education is likely to inculcate into pupils exactly the kind of undesirable deference which prepares them to accept with out demur subsequent low paid employment in what Marxists perceive to be an exploitative, unjust, unequal capitalist system.

Meanwhile interactionists argue that the streaming, banding and setting favoured by the Coalition compounds the educational difficulties of the more disadvantaged pupils by subjecting them to negative labelling processes which adversely affect their progress. Social Democracy has provided the main theoretical basis for Labour Party policy. For these reasons Social Democrats have been strong supporters of Comprehensive Secondary Education which in their view would be most likely to increase equality of educational opportunity and to raise average educational standards.

Even then broader social and economic and social policies to reduce poverty and inequality will also be necessary because many Social Democrats believe that it may well still be true that as Basil Bernstein stated in the s"Education cannot compensate for society. Many Social Democrats would support Labour's vocational education initiatives on they grounds that these should increase pupil employability but they might also express critical concerns about these policies.

Thus the academic-vocational divide which has bedevilled the UK education system for years may remain for the foreseeable future. However the increasing popularity of Two-Year Foundation degrees which combine vocational and academic elements does perhaps offer hope for the future. Some more recent studies do suggest that in general negative labelling is nowadays less likely to occur although this conclusion has itself been denied in other recent interactionist studies.

In the Marxist view the continuation of capitalism depends upon the availability of workers with different levels of skill ready to play significantly different roles and to accept significantly different levels of income in the capitalist economy.

Social Class and Educational Achievement Essay Plan

It follows that so long as the capitalist system remains even if the education system operates with a little relative autonomy, social class, ethnic and gender differences in educational achievement and attitudes sympathetic to the continuation of capitalism will remain because they themselves are essential to the continuation of capitalism. In the Marxist View only the abolition of capitalist can lead to a truly liberating education for all.

Of course the entire Marxist analysis of capitalist societies and their education systems can be criticised from all of the other perspectives mentioned in this essay. Perhaps this is a little exercise which you would like to undertake for yourselves. It is clear that in the last twenty or so years the educational achievements of female students have improved rapidly relative to those of males.

I hope that after some further reading and class discussion you will be able to complete the following table indicating the differing sociological views in each broad policy area. Conservative Policies Onwards. Click here for Stephen Machin article Guardian. Click here for Guardian letter. Click here and here and here for Sutton Trust items.

Coalition Education Policies: Some Summary Information The Coalition Government introduced a wide range of education policies and I can only provide a broad summary of them here.


In broad terms Coalition education policies have incorporated the following main elements. An acceleration of the development of the quasi-market in education via the reorientation and rapid expansion of Labour's Academies Programme and the introduction of the Free Schools Programme. Continued support for Private Education.

The Coalition has emphasised that many private schools generate very good examination results which is assumed to confirm the high standards of teaching in these schools. The Coalition recognise also that private school pupils are especially likely to gain entry to elite occupations and emphasise that state schools must aspire to provide similar opportunities for their pupils.

State school standards can be improved to some extent by closer collaboration with private schools.

There have been controversies surrounding the development of the Sure Start Programme under the Coalition government. Critics have claimed that several hundred Sure Start centres have been closed while the Government has argued that the decline in the number of Sure Start centres has arisen primarily [but not entirely] as a result of amalgamations of smaller centres.

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Be that as it may it has also been argued that the number of Sure Start centres will decline very significantly in the future if the Conservatives are returned to power in Click here for a useful article by Cathy Newman. The discontinuation of the Aim Higher Programme which had been designed to encourage disadvantaged students to apply to University.

A clear statement of intent to correct what the Government perceived to be the problem of grade inflation which allegedly was reducing the credibility of both GCSE and GCE Advanced level examination. Broad Criticisms Of Coalition Education Policies The general criticisms of the quasi-marketisation of education apply in particular to the rapid expansion of quasi-marketisation under the Coalition and important specific criticisms have been made of the Coalition's Academies and Free Schools Programmes. It has been argued that the introduction of the Pupil Premium , although praiseworthy, is unlikely to increase equality of educational opportunity significantly.

It is argued that the phasing out of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and its replacement by what critics consider to be a less effective support system combined with the significant increase in Higher Education tuition fees are both likely to increase inequality of educational opportunity. It is argued that , as with previous government policies, Coalition initiatives to improve the quality of technical education are unlikely to be successful.

It studies the functional importance of education also. It makes studies of school organisation and the relation between schools and social structure, especially social class, family and neighborhood.

essay question sociology - education

Studies have shown that social class and its correlates have a systematic effect on educability and educational selection. For example, in Britain, the chances of achieving a university degree are six times better for a middle class than for a working-class child. The social determinants of academic success remain powerful even in modern educational systems in spite of the provision of equal opportunities for all.

3 thoughts on “Social Class and Educational Achievement Essay Plan”

Sociological studies of higher education have increased since Sociology of education stresses upon the social importance of education.

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