SOC101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Hidden Curriculum, Institutional Racism, Structural Functionalism

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SOC 101 – Week Ten Notes
What is a social institution and why is education among the most important?
-Education is arguably one of the most important social institutions because it
has such an impact on our socialization, socio-economic status, and our
economic prospects.
oRemember, a social institution involves a set of ideas on how to
accomplish goals deemed important in a society.
Schools play an important role in this process.
oEducation is the venue where curriculum content and disciplinary
practices modify student behaviour to be consistent with norms.
-In combination, this means that the institution of education plays a large role
in a person’s future social mobility.
How do Canadians perform in terms of our education system?
-International comparisons show that Canadians (aged 15) perform relatively
well in standardized math, science, and literacy tests.
-Just because we are ranked #5 overall doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of
work to do to improve the quality of Canadian education, particularly for
students from disadvantaged families
What was going on in the early stages of education systems?
-Before the Industrial Revolution, there simply wasn’t any education for the
masses.
oWhen education occurred it was largely for the upper class, occurred
individually or in small groups, and was segregated by gender.
The literacy rate for women was much lower.
oThe argument put forward is that it was in the best interests of the
ruling elite to keep the population illiterate so it’s authority couldn’t
be challenged.
oThis started to change because the Industrial Revolution demanded a
more disciplined and literate workforce.
It’s at this point that public education and industrialization
became co-dependent.
In approximately 1846, education transformed into a way of
achieving economic modernization.
oThis supported the human capital thesis which says that when we
invest in schools to increase the knowledge and skills of the
workforce, the human capital will increase as well.
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What did Ryerson argue?
-Ryerson argued that the school system promoted the idea that it would be
universal, compulsory, and free.
oThe reality is twofold.
Education legitimized the social order and hierarchy in society.
It also maintained social control by suppressing the discontent
of the Irish Catholics and assimilating them into the dominant
Protestant culture in Canada at the time.
oBasically, education was based on the principle of uniformity, but in
doing so, served as an instrument of social control to be exercised on
the working class.
What is the assimilation model?
-White Protestant values as the dominant ideology.
-Emphasis on assimilating minority groups into the dominant culture with the
assistance of the educational system (Canada has a reputation for this)
-Problem?
oMonoculturalism - Model ignores the inherent racial bias present
because it promotes one dominant ideology above others
(unfortunately still influences curriculum today)
What is the multicultural education model?
-Officially implemented by the Canadian federal government in 1971.
-Dual purpose was to:
1. Preserve and promote cultural diversity
2. Remove the barriers that denied certain groups full
participation/membership in Canadian society.
-Concept is great in principle but not so much in practice within the
educational system.
-3 fundamental assumptions:
1. Improve educational achievement.
2. Promote equality in opportunities.
3. Reduce prejudice and discrimination.
-Problem?
oTakes a museum approach - When introducing material on different
cultures only historical information is presented.
oThe coverage is very superficial (esp. in coverage of aspects of cultural
identity)
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What is the anti-racism and anti-oppression education model?
-Recognizes the existence of systemic racism in Canada.
-Focus = On exposing and eliminating the institutional and individual barriers
to equality.
-Goal = Change policies, practices, attitudes, & behaviours that contribute to
perpetuating social inequality.
-This model is meant to create a classroom environment that embodies the
following 4 principles:
1. Expose stereotypes.
2. Sources of information.
3. Critical thinking skills to evaluate the information.
4. Provide alternative or the missing information.
-In 1995, the Conservative government in Ontario dismantled all anti-racism
and anti-oppression initiatives.
What is the idea of hidden curriculum?
-Hidden Curriculum = the unstated, unofficial agenda of school system
authorities.
oRobert Merton’s structural functionalist theory enables us to
understand that the hidden curriculum serves the latent function of a
course, not it’s explicit goals.
A structural functionalist account might show that the hidden
curriculum teaches societal norms; that is, the value of work,
the need to respect authority, and to be efficient.
Thus, serves the function of a course but reproduces status quo
and limits class mobility.
-Cultural Reproduction Theory (Cultural Capital) = the symbolic culture of
the upper class because they are the ones that benefit in school and in their
careers.
oExpensive private schools can have a differential impact on potential
employers.
oThis reinforces the hidden curriculum and class inequality by
supporting upper class consumption patterns at some schools by
some students.
What are some examples of class inequalities?
-Persistent SES (socioeconomic status) disparities at all levels of schooling –
Ex. JK-Grade 1 lower SES children
oMore likely to experience vocabulary delays, lower literacy levels
oLess “school ready”.
-Early development gaps have enduring and long-term consequences – Ex.
High school and beyond
oLower reading, math, and science scores in high school.
oHigher drop-out rates, Lower university attendance.
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