Study at an all black school in St. Louis, Missouri. Did an ethnography
(able to observe in a classroom setting, the interactions between black
kindergarten students and black teachers)
Had the class been mixed, the findings would have been affected.
Differently located in the classroom.
Teacher identified group of students who she believed to be very
promising students. She had these kids sit in the first rows in the class.
Kids that were deemed not very promising were placed at the back of the
classroom. Another bunch of kids in the middle who were perceived as
neither particularly troublesome nor promising. Categorizing was done
early on in the school term.
What was the basis for early differentiation?
Risks the observer saw:
o These kids in the front tended to be the ones who showed up to
school every morning wearing clean clothes
o These kids who appeared in the classroom with neat hair, these
kids were most respectful of the teacher
o These kids skin color were significantly lighter than those in the
back of the classroom (in the African community, skin color is a
source of stratification)
Other kids were:
o Poor oral skills
o Darker skins
Kids who were judged as lacking promise early on:
o Came from single parent families
o Had parents who were on welfare
Teachers in the school were making judgments about the academic
promise of very young kids using characteristics that were related to
socioeconomic status of the kids
Using markers of social class, socioeconomic status for judging students
capability to do work
Kids were then treated very differently in the classroom
Findings: kids in the front row were frequently praised by the teacher, a
situation that compared to kids in the back who were the subject of
criticism and complaint by the teacher, the kids in the front received must
more of the teachers instruction, kids at the back were seen less
instruction and teaching, seen as acquiring close attention and control and
were regarded as slow learners.
Argument: kids are being labeled very early on. Class basis to the labeling
(some being promising, others not). Another thing he found: in the course of this first year kindergarten, once
they were assigned their slots in the classroom there wasn’t much
transfer. In order words, there wasn’t much mobility. Once exposed to
difference kids of teaching, it wasn’t changed. Little mobility between
Finding: as school year progressed, risk noted that the educational
attainment and performance of kids from 3 groups were wider and wider.
Kids in the front had their performance moving and the kids in the back
had lower performance levels.
End of the academic year. Kids were back in school in September for
grade 1. Findings (2 things). In the elementary school kids are more
formally assigned to be ranked. Kids are more categorized as top, middle
or low group. Basis of allocation that started is based on where they were
sitting throughout kindergarten years. Those who were in the front rows in
the few days of kindergarten found themselves at the front rows in grade 1
and vise versa for those in the back rows.
At the end of grade 1, at the beginning of grade 2 we find a repeat of the
existing pattern. Kids who were in the top ability group in grade 2 were
also the kids who in kindergarten and grade 1 were placed in the front
Strong predictor ability groups and how the teacher initially responded to
kids when they initially entered kindergarten.
Educational inequality among students
Sociology of education involved degree to which schools provide equal
opportunity for everyone, regardless of social backgrounds of the kids.
Do poor kids have the same opportunity as richer kids? Functionalists and
conflict theorists would answer this differently.
o Functionalists would say schools are fairly successful in delivering
equality of opportunity conflicts would say schools struggle to
provide equality of opportunity
Over the last 50-60 years, educational attainments have increased. If you
compare 2012 with 1950, you would find a significantly larger
number/proportions of young people completing universities, much larger
numbers of people completing high school. Kids from affluent and poor
backgrounds, black, brown, white students.
Overall level of education level has increased across the boards because
of ratcheting up of education.
One of the things we persistently/stubbornly find is that educational
attainment is strongly linked to SES of students.
That pattern exists overtime. You would have found pattern in the 1930s,
40s, 50s, 60s, and 2012. You find it in most societies not just in Canada;
you also find it in USA, UK, France, Germany, etc.
Table 12.2 Probability of having a university degree in 2003…
Fathers with different levels of education.
In statistical terms, the highest probability of graduating from university if
100% or as expressed in this diagram 1.0. Example: in a group of 10 people where everyone graduated would be 100 or 1.0. By that kind of
benchmark, for the year 2003 the probability of Canadian 30+ years
possessing a university degree was 23% or 0.23