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Mar 8 & 9
Lecture 8: Racialization and education
Main points
Schools play a role in both challenging and creating inequality
Culture, ethnicity and race are distinct and shifting terms
Young people’s lives are shaped by culture, ethnicity and race, sometimes with difficult
consequences, including dealing with inequality and racism in schools
Various movements challenge the school’s reproduction of inequalities
I/ Schooling
A) Schools and equality
Skill development and credentials: helps kids of different backgrounds get ahead early to
benefit them in the future
Encountering diversity: perpetuate equality because they challenge inequality, teaching
children about diversity and how different people do different things differently
B) Socialization and society
Reproducing culture: singing the national anthem every morning, praying, celebrating events
(Halloween, etc.) are ways culture is taught through the school
Hidden curriculum: things we learn in school are not really overt. Manners, socialization,
obedience (putting hand up to talk, teacher sits at front of class). They are taught how to live
in particular environment.
Dominant norms: the culture that they teach tends to be the dominant culture and values of
the society.
C) Schools and inequality
1. Social reproduction theory: Bowles and Gintis (1976) Schooling in Capitalist America - a
“classic!’ : Schools in North America are really about reproducing a class hierarchy. Arguments that
schools produce both inequality and equality equally.
Grooming students for certain kinds of work: Streaming, middle-upper-class kids are the
ones critically thinking and becoming entrepreneurs, business owners, etc.
-E.g. 1: Barman, Jean “Schooled for Inequality: The Education of British
Columbia Aboriginal Children” from Histories of Canadian Children and Youth –
she looks at British Columbia schooling. Part of the reason for schooling is to
make the children like white Anglophone children. They were being streamed
and only taught skills that would lead to them being farmers, maids, cooks, etc.
-E.g. 2: military recruiting in US inner city schools Its been found that there
are American schools that have military recruitments centers. There is pattern
that these centers are usually in poorer schools with non-white members.
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-E.g. 1: Jenny Oakes (1985) Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality –
talking about American schooling. She found that not only is there streaming,
where the working class kids are more likely to be put in more academic
classes, but problematically those classes tended to be underfunded (more
students, teachers paid less, fewer resources).
-E.g. 2: Angela Valenzuela. (2009) “Subtractive schooling, caring relations, and
social capital in the schooling of U.S.-Mexican youth”. In The Curriculum Studies
Reader, eds D. J. Flinders and S. J. Thornton. Standardized tests are a big deal
in the states (SAT’s). You want students to do well, so that school gets more
funding. Some schools tell the Latino and working class students not to come
on the day of the testing and will bring down the average and amount of
funding for the school.
2. Unequal resources (in Schissel)
- exacerbated by inequality and underfunding: children in different environments have
different advantages. Schools in rich neighborhoods are going to make more money off of
raffles then say a school in a poorer neighborhood.
3. Rewarding of cultural capital
- Review cultural capital: idea that certain class cultures bring in their own cultural
background. Some are more dominant then others. Schools that are underfunded tend to lack
cultural capital.
-School’s values are whose values?
-For some an easier fit: doesn’t mean you will excel just easier fit
-For some a harder fit: dressing differently, acting differently, etc.
II/ Defining race, culture and ethnicity
Culture: The "set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society
or a social group… it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of
living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs" (UNESCO 2002)
Ethnicity: More specifically defining a group of people based on shared cultural features that are
often linked with language, traditions, religion, history and nationality.
Race: Defining a group of people based on physical characteristics that are deemed to be social
Racialization: the production of racial identities
- not something that’s inherent but created more socially. We tend to say the one race is
more dominant.
Racism: Believing that one racial group is superior to others, that physical appearance indicates
other essential characteristics.
III/ Making culture, race and ethnicity
A) Stable categories: We tend to see culture as something that’s stable and something we can hold
on to. Traditions, etc.
B) Changing and contested categories
Changing: At certain parts of our lives we may have felt more or less catholic, Canadian, etc.
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