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1 CHAPTER 2 Education with Methods in Context Ken Browne 2015 This file should be used solely for the purpose of review and must not be otherwise stored, duplicated, 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 24 copied or sold 16/03/ :27

2 SPECIFICATION TOPICS Topic 1 The role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure Topic 2 Relationships and processes within schools, with particular reference to teacher/pupil relationships, pupil identities and subcultures, the hidden curriculum, and the organisation of teaching and learning Topic 3 Differential educational achievement of social groups by social class, gender and ethnicity in contemporary society Topic 4 The significance of educational policies, including policies of selection, marketisation and privatisation, and policies to achieve greater equality of opportunity or outcome, for an understanding of the structure, role, impact and experience of and access to education; the impact of globalisation on educational policy Topic 5 The application of sociological research methods to the study of education Contents TOPIC 1 26 The role and purpose of education in contemporary society 26 Sociological perspectives on the role of education in society 27 Vocational education and the development of human capital 36 Practice questions 38 TOPIC 2 39 School organization, school processes and the teaching and learning context 39 Teacher stereotyping, pupil identities and the halo effect 41 Banding, streaming and setting 44 Educational triage 45 Student responses to the experience of schooling: school subcultures 46 An evaluation of explanations for student progress focusing on school organization, school processes and the teaching and learning context 50 Practice questions 51 TOPIC 3 52 Is contemporary Britain a meritocracy? 52 Social class differences in educational achievement 52 Gender and educational achievement: the underachievement of boys... but don t forget the girls 67 Ethnicity and educational achievement 78 Bringing it all together: social class, gender and ethnicity the achievement hierarchy 85 Practice questions 86 TOPIC 4 87 The key aims of educational policy 87 Equality of educational opportunity and equality of outcome 87 Selection policies in education 90 Admissions policies 92 The framework of educational policy 93 The privatization of education 96 The marketization of education 98 Government policies from the 1980s onwards on marketization and raising standards 101 Criticisms of the marketization of education 106 Private education: the independent schools 108 Practice questions 112 TOPIC 5 Methods in Context 113 Apply the method 113 Apply P.E.R.V.E.R.T. 113 Practice question 120 Chapter summary and revision checklist 120 Key terms 121 Practice question BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 25 16/03/ :27

3 C H A P T E R 2 Education with Methods in Context Topic 1 SPECIFICATION AREA The role and functions of the education system, including its relationship to the economy and to class structure The role and purpose of education in contemporary society Education is a major social institution, and around 13 per cent of total public spending (spending by central and local government) goes on education around 88 billion a year in Schools in Britain command a captive audience of virtually all children between the ages of 5 and 17 (age 18 from 2015). During this period of compulsory education and training, young people spend about half of the time they are awake at school or college during term time a major time commitment and the education system is therefore a major agency of secondary socialization in advanced contemporary societies. This topic examines a range of sociological explanations of why such importance is attached to education. 26 Full- time education or training is compulsory in the UK from ages 5 17 (age 18 from 2015), though many children start younger in reception classes at primary and infant schools, or at preschools, nurseries and playgroups. About 13 per cent of everything national and local government spends goes on education. Why do you think such importance is attached to education? 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 26 16/03/ :27

4 28 Education with Methods in Context Activity 1 Identify those features which make school life like a society in miniature, preparing people for wider society. 2 Parsons suggests that schooling provides a bridge between the family and wider adult society. Think about your own schooling, and the way that, as you moved from infant school through to the end of secondary schooling, teacher attitudes and the experience of schooling changed. Can you identify any evidence of a move from particularism to universalism? 3 Identify all the features of both the formal curriculum and the hidden curriculum, with examples, which transmit values and culture from one generation to the next. To what extent do you think those things learnt in school actually unite people in society? undertake the wide range of different jobs which arise from the specialized division of labour in a modern economy. They argue the education system prepares this labour force, and makes sure the best and most qualified people end up in the jobs requiring the greatest skills and responsibilities. This is discussed further in a later section on vocational education (see pages 36 7). 4 Selecting and allocating people for roles in a meritocratic society, and legitimizing social inequality For functionalists, like Davis and Moore (1967 [1945]), the education system is a means of selecting or sifting people for different levels of the job market, and ensuring the most talented and qualified individuals are allocated to the most important jobs. By grading people through streaming and test and exam results, the education system is a major method of role allocation fitting the most suitable people into the hierarchy of unequal positions in society. In a meritocratic society, access to jobs, and to positions of wealth, status and power, depend mainly on educational qualifications and other skills and talents. Davis and Moore suggest that in this educational race for success there is equality of educational opportunity, and everyone who has the ability and talent and puts in the effort has an equal chance of coming out ahead. Inequalities in society are therefore legitimized made to seem fair and just. Those who succeed deserve their success, and those who fail have only themselves to blame. Activity To what extent do you think the school work you are doing, or did, and the qualifications you obtain(ed) at school might be preparing, or did prepare, you for doing a job? Identify, with examples, the links between your school subjects and exams and earning a living. THE NEW RIGHT The New Right approach to education policy reflects many of the ideas of the functionalist perspective. The New Right argues education should be concerned not with promoting equality or equality of opportunity, but with training the workforce, making sure the most able students have their talents developed and are recruited into the most important jobs, while others are prepared for lower- level employment. Education should socialize young people into collective values and responsible citizenship, and thereby build social cohesion and social solidarity to ensure a stable and united society. New Right theorists like Chubb and Moe (1990, 1992) believe an education system controlled by state and local authorities (local councils) is not the best means of achieving these aims, as it imposes a single type of school regardless of the wishes and needs of parents or local communities. They argue there should be a free market in education, with a range of different types of The division of labour is the division of work or occupations into a large number of specialized tasks, each of which is carried out by one worker or a group of workers. Equality of educational opportunity is the idea that every child, regardless of his or her social class background, ability to pay school fees, ethnic background, gender or disability, should have an equal chance of developing their talents and abilities and of doing as well as his or her ability will allow. 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 28 16/03/ :27

5 Education with Methods in Context 29 Table 2.1 Criticisms of the functionalist view of education Functionalist view Education passes on society s culture from one generation to the next, including shared norms and values underpinning value consensus. These provide the social glue which creates social solidarity and social cohesion. Education provides a bridge between the particularistic values and ascribed status of the family and the universalistic values and achieved status of wider society. Education provides a trained and qualified labour force. Effective role selection and allocation. Education selects the most suitable and qualified people and matches them with the right jobs in a meritocratic society. Education legitimizes social inequality. Criticism Marxists would argue that this view ignores the inequalities in power in society. There is no value consensus, and the culture and values passed on by the school are those of the dominant or ruling class. Feminists might argue the school passes on patriarchal values, and disadvantages girls and women. There is some doubt about how far contemporary society is really based on universalistic values and achieved status. Many in the upper class inherit wealth, and there are many elite jobs where ascribed status characteristics such as social class, gender and ethnic background still have a very important influence. The link between educational qualifications and pay and job status is a weak one, and certainly much weaker than functionalists assume. The content of what people learn in schools often has very little to do directly with what they actually do in their jobs. Most occupational skills are learnt on the job or through firms own training schemes. The demand for educational qualifications for many occupations is simply an attempt to raise the status of the occupation, rather than providing the knowledge and skill requirements necessary for performing the job. The education system does not act as a neutral sieve, simply grading and selecting students according to their ability. Social class particularly, but also ethnicity and gender seem to be the major factors influencing success or failure in education. There is no equality of opportunity in education everyone does not start at the same point, and not everyone has the same chance of success in education, even when they have the same ability. Bowles and Gintis (2011 [1976]) (discussed later) argue that the education system simply disguises the fact that there is no equality of opportunity in education, and that it is social class particularly, but also ethnicity and gender that are the main influences on educational success. Marketization is the process whereby services, like education or health, that were previously controlled and run by the state, have government or local council control reduced or removed altogether, and become subject to the free market forces of supply and demand, based on competition and consumer choice. independently managed schools and colleges, run like private businesses, tailored to, answerable to and shaped by the wishes and needs of local communities of parents and students. Competition for students and funding, combined with a free choice of school for parents/students, will lead to a more efficient education system delivering better value for the taxpayer who funds education. This marketization of education, discussed in Topic 4, is seen as producing benefits for both the taxpayer and the consumers of education, such as a higher quality of education and educational standards, and a more skilled and qualified workforce. The New Right therefore sees education operating much like supermarkets, which are forced to supply cheaper and better- quality products as they compete for customers. MARXIST PERSPECTIVES ON EDUCATION: REPRODUCING AND LEGITIMIZING THE CLASS STRUCTURE Marxists see education primarily as a means of social control, encouraging young people to be conformists, to accept their social position and not to do anything to upset the current patterns of inequality in power, wealth and income. Marxists emphasize the way the education system reproduces existing social class inequalities, and passes them on from one generation to the next. At the same time, it does this by giving the impression that those who fail in education do so because of their lack of ability and effort, and have only themselves to blame. In this way, people are encouraged to 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 29 16/03/ :27

6 30 Education with Methods in Context accept the positions they find themselves in after schooling, even though it is disadvantages arising from social class background that create inequalities in educational success. The work of Althusser: education as an ideological state apparatus The Marxist Althusser (1971) saw the main role of education in a capitalist society as the reproduction of an efficient and obedient labour force. This involves two aspects: the reproduction of the necessary technical skills. the reproduction of ruling class ideology (the dominant beliefs and values) and the socialization of workers into accepting this dominant ideology (this is known as false consciousness). Althusser argues that, to prevent the working class from rebelling against their exploitation, the ruling class must try to win their hearts and minds by persuading them to accept ruling class ideology. This process of persuasion is carried out by a number of ideological state apparatuses, such as the family, the media, the law, religion and the education system. Althusser argues that in contemporary Western societies the main ideological state apparatus is the education system, which: passes on ruling class ideology justifying the capitalist system. selects people for the different social classes as adults, developing the right attitudes and behaviour; for example, workers are persuaded to accept and submit to exploitation, and managers and administrators to rule. Bourdieu and the reproduction of class inequalities Bourdieu (1977) regards a key role of the education system in capitalist societies as legitimizing (justifying) class inequalities and reproducing the class structure. Bourdieu argues that each social class possesses its own cultural framework or set of ideas, which he calls a habitus. This cultural framework contains ideas about what counts as good and bad taste, good books, newspapers, TV programmes and so on. This habitus is picked up through socialization in the family. The dominant class has the power to impose its own habitus in the education system, so what counts as educational knowledge is not the culture of society as a whole, but that of the dominant social class. Those who come from better- off middle- and upper- class backgrounds have more access to the culture of the dominant class. Bourdieu calls this advantage cultural capital. He therefore suggests success in the education system is based on the possession of cultural capital and of access to the habitus or culture of the dominant social class. Pupils from lower social classes do not in general possess cultural capital, so the educational failure of the majority of these pupils is inevitable. However, the dominant ideology (as seen in the functionalist view) is that success and failure in the education system is meritocratic, based on individuals talents and hard work, and those who succeed are seen to deserve their higher places in the class structure. However, success and failure are really based on the possession of cultural capital, and the education system devalues working- class culture and regards it as inferior to upper- and middle- class culture. This makes it very difficult for pupils from lower social classes to succeed in the education system, while the upper and middle classes have an in- built advantage and much greater chances of educational success before they even start school. This makes it easier for higher- class individuals to stay in the class they were born into, and legitimizes the higher social class positions which they go on to hold as adults. In this way, Bourdieu argues, the education system legitimizes and reproduces class inequalities from one generation to the next. There is more discussion of Bourdieu and cultural capital on pages 60 1 False consciousness is a failure by members of a social class to recognize their real interests. Ideological state apparatuses are agencies which serve to spread the ideology, and justify the power, of the dominant social class. A habitus is the cultural framework and set of ideas possessed by a social class, into which people are socialized, and which influences their cultural tastes and choices. Cultural capital is the knowledge, language, manners and forms of behaviour, attitudes and values, taste and lifestyle which give middle- class and upper- class students who possess them an in- built advantage in a middle- class- controlled education system. Schooling, repression and hegemonic control: Illich and Freire The Marxist idea of education reproducing inequality and a conformist, submissive and obedient working class is reflected in the work of Illich (1995). Illich argues schools are repressive institutions which promote conformity and encourage students into passive acceptance of existing inequalities and the interests of the powerful, rather than encouraging them to be critical and to think for themselves. Illich suggests schools do this by rewarding those who accept the school regime 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 30 16/03/ :27

7 Education with Methods in Context 31 Figure 2.1 Education and the class structure 4-year-olds Age 5 17, School GCSE, Diplomas Selection for different occupations Age 16 18, Further education and sixth forms Diplomas, GCSE/AS/A levels and vocational courses Selection for different occupations Working-class occupations filled with more or less adaptable and conforming manual workers Age 18+. Higher education (Universities and colleges) Middle-class occupations filled with more or less adaptable and conforming white-collar workers, managers and professionals Hegemony refers to the dominance in society of the ruling class s set of ideas over others, and acceptance of and consent to them by the rest of society. Hegemonic control is where control of the working class is mainly achieved through the hegemony and acceptance of ruling class ideas with qualifications and access to higher levels of the education system and better jobs. Those who don t conform, or who question the authority of teachers or the value of the education provided by schools, are excluded from further progress in education, and end up in lower- level jobs. Illich suggests the solution to this is to abolish schooling altogether what he calls deschooling. Freire (1996) sees schools as repressive institutions, where learners are conditioned to accept oppressive relations of domination and subordination, and to listen to their betters, for example through obeying teachers and deferring to their superior knowledge. The work of Althusser, Illich and Freire suggests that the education system plays an important role in producing the hegemony and hegemonic control of the ruling class convincing the rest of society to accept the truth and superiority of the ruling class s set of ideas over others, and winning their consent to continued control by the dominant class. Activity 1 Refer to figure 2.1. Suggest the attitudes and values that might be required by those leaving the education system at different stages for different levels of employment. 2 Can you think of values or ideas that are passed on through the education system which might be in the interests of the dominant groups in society rather than in the interests of all? 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 31 16/03/ :27

8 36 Education with Methods in Context Activity 1 Suggest three ways in which schooling prepares young people for the world of work. 2 Explain what is meant by the legitimization of social class inequality, and suggest two ways in which schooling might achieve this. 3 Identify and explain two ways in which the educational system contributes to the economy. 4 Explain what is meant by the hidden curriculum, and suggest two ways this might prepare children for adult life. Vocational education and the development of human capital The emphasis on developing what Schultz called human capital, by preparing young people for work and making education meet the needs of the economy, is known as vocational education. Functionalists and the New Right see this in a beneficial way, as helping to boost the economy. Marxists tend to view vocational education largely as a second- rate education for those from working- class backgrounds, concerned with producing passive and conformist workers to support a profit- making capitalist society, while the middle class enjoy a more academic education leading to well- paid positions of power and influence in society. The main focus of vocational education in contemporary Britain has been on: improving the quality of the basic skills of the workforce, and in particular those of young people aged 14 to 18. In recent years, this has become more important because of high levels of unemployment among young people, with around 16 per cent of 16- to 24- year- olds unemployed in ending the status division between academic and vocational qualifications, so that practical, technical and vocational education is integrated with academic learning (such as in AS and A levels and university degrees) so they all have more value in the labour market. It was thought that, by making the education system produce a more skilled and flexible labour force, this would better meet the needs of employers and would enable Britain to maintain a successful position in the world economy. It was also believed that this would provide young people with the skills that would enable them to take advantage of the wide range of jobs and careers opening up with globalization. Measures to achieve this have included: Work experience programmes for school and college students, to ease the transition from school to work, and help/encourage them to get jobs successfully and carry them out well, with a better understanding of work and the economy. An expansion of post- 16 education and training, with more educational and training courses, and government training schemes for those leaving school, which are closely related to the world of work, and concerned with learning work- related skills. For example, Tech Level educational qualifications with a new Tech Bacc (Technical Baccalaureate) performance measure for institutions for 16- to 19- year- olds in 2014, school- /college- and work- based NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications), Diplomas (withdrawn in 2014), Pearson BTECs, City and Guilds, Cambridge Nationals, appenticeships and traineeships were developed to provide nationally approved and recognized qualifications and training for vocational courses. GCSEs and AS and A levels were made more demanding (harder!) so students were better qualified. A stronger emphasis on key skills in the use and application of number, and in communication, information technology and problem solving, as well as basic literacy and numeracy skills, in the national curriculum. These are the skills that most employers found that school leavers lack, as well as appropriate attitudes to, and an awareness of, working life, according to the CBI (Confederation of British Industry)/Pearson s Gateway to Growth education and skills survey of business leaders in Globalization is the growing interconnectedness of societies across the world, with the spread of the same culture, consumer goods and economic interests across the globe. 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 36 16/03/ :27

9 Education with Methods in Context 37 All these changes were designed to produce a more flexible and qualified labour force, fitting education to the needs of employers, and enabling both young people and employers to adapt to, and take advantage of, a rapidly changing economy in a globalized world. Criticisms of vocational education Work experience is often seen by school students as boring and repetitive, involving little development of their skills and having little to do with their future ambitions. Post-school training schemes are often similarly criticized for providing little development of skills, for being used as a source of cheap labour by employers, and for not leading to proper jobs at the end of the training. Such schemes are sometimes seen as having more to do with reducing politically embarrassing unemployment statistics, reducing the proportion of NEET 16- to 18-year-olds (NEET means not in education, employment or training ) and thereby keeping young people away from crime and other forms of deviance, than with producing a skilled labour force. Vocational education and qualifications, are often seen as having lower status than more traditional academic subjects and courses. Vocational qualifications are, in general, less likely to lead to university entry, and are more likely to lead to lower-status, lower-paid jobs as adults. Parents, teachers and students themselves therefore often see vocational qualifications as an inferior or second-rate option compared to more traditional academic subjects and courses. Those from working-class backgrounds are more likely to find themselves taking vocational subjects and courses, reinforcing divisions between social classes. Birdwell et al. (2011) suggested that secondary schools in England and Wales routinely neglect pupils with vocational aspirations, and focus on brighter children destined to go on to higher education. Schools failed to help teenagers prepare for the world of work, offering them little careers advice or help in finding jobs that would suit them. The report found that many of the vocational qualifications that young people are encouraged to aim for turn out to be worthless, that workrelated training was found to be of low quality, and that schools undervalued the importance of part-time work, after-school clubs and volunteering in building up young people s skills and experience. Do you think work experience programmes at school are useful? Do you think vocational courses are more or less valuable to students compared to doing more academic courses like traditional GCSEs and AS and A levels? 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 37 16/03/ :27

10 38 Education with Methods in Context Activity 1 Should schools and colleges be concerned mainly with meeting the needs of business and industry, and fitting people into the job market? Or should they be concerned with the development of free- thinking, creative and critical individuals, allowing them to pursue and develop their interests? Suggest two advantages and two disadvantages of each view. 2 Think back over your school work experience programmes. Were they very useful to you? Give reasons for your answer. 3 Do you think AS and A levels have the same status as vocational qualifications, such as NVQs, BTEC, and Diplomas (withdrawn in 2014)? Explain your answer. Practice questions 1 Define the term meritocracy. (2 marks) 2 Using one example, briefly explain how the hidden curriculum in schools may prepare young people for working life. (2 marks) 3 Outline three ways in which schooling might contribute to social stability. (6 marks) 4 Outline three reasons why vocational education is often given lower status in schools compared to academic courses such as GCSEs and AS and A levels. (6 marks) 5 Outline and explain two ways in which the education system may pass on values and ideas which are in the interests of dominant groups in society. (10 marks) 6 Read Item A below and answer the question that follows. Item A Functionalists see education as an important agency of socialization playing a key role in preparing young people for adulthood and working life, and improving their life chances through upward social mobility. All those who have the ability and talent and put in the effort have an equal chance of success. The grading of pupils by test and exam results benefits the economy by ensuring the most talented and qualified individuals are allocated to the most important jobs in a meritocratic society. Applying material from Item A and your knowledge, evaluate functionalist approaches to the role of education in society. (20 marks) 02 BROWNE CHAPTERS 1-3 (M3587).indd 38 16/03/ :27

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