C HAPTER 13
I. Why Focus on the European Union?
A. The European Union (EU) is an economic and political alliance that began in
1952 with six member countries.
1. The alliance has expanded several times to eventually include 27
2. The EU is investing heavily in education and research to boost its
international competitiveness and to ensure that Europeans have the
skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century.
3. The U.S. Department of Education routinely compares its students and
education system with foreign, especially European, counterparts on a
host of attributes, including teachers’ salaries, reading scores,
scientific literacy, per capita spending on education, and access to
A. Core Concept 1:In the broadest sense, education includes the formal and
informal experiences that train, discipline, and shape the mental and physical
potentials of the maturing person.
1. Education begins when people are born and ends when they die.
a. Informal education occurs in a spontaneous, unplanned way.
b. Formal education is a purposeful, planned effort to impart
specific skills or information.
c. Schooling - a program of formal, systematic instruction that takes
place primarily in classrooms but also includes extracurricular
activities and out-of-classroom assignments
B. Social Functions of Education
1. Core Concept 2: Schools perform a number of important social
functions that, ideally, contribute to the smooth operation of society.
2. Social functions of education include transmitting skills, facilitating
change and progress, contributing basic and applied research,
integrating diverse populations, and screening and selecting the most
qualified students for what are considered the most socially important
3. Societies use education-based programs to address a variety of social
problems. The U.S. is probably unique in that education is viewed as
theprimarysolution to many problems.
4. Other functions include serving as reliable babysitters and providing
a dating pool and marriage market.
C. The Conflict Perspective
1. Core Concept 3: An analysis of school systems must focus on the ways
the educational experience is structured to create and perpetuate
advantage and privilege.
2. Funding as a Broad Measure of Inequality
a. Although the United States ranks second in per-pupil
spending for primary and secondary education, students
living in many countries that spend far less perform at higher
b. In the United States, the heavy reliance on state and local
revenue to fund primary and secondary education is
problematic because wealthy states and local communities
generate less tax revenue than do wealthier ones.
c. Illiteracy is the inability to understand and use a symbol
system, whether it is based on sounds, letters, numbers, or
some other type of symbol.
i. Illiteracy is a product of one’s environment.
ii. The United States has the greatest percentage of 15-year old
students classified as illiterate.
iii.While European countries mandate foreign language instruction
as early as age 5, only 44 percent of high school students in the
United States study a foreign language.
3. The Availability of College
a. Only a handful of countries in the world give a significant share of
the population the opportunity to attend college.
b. One distinctive feature of the U.S. education system is that, in
theory, anyone can attend college, even if he or she has not
graduated from high school or received a GED.
4. The Credential Society— Core Concept 4: The credential society is
a situation in which employers use educational credentials as
screening devices for sorting through a pool of largely anonymous
a. Emphasis on a college degree may explain why fewer than 10
percent of American high school students are enrolled in
vocational programs and why 60 to 70 percent are enrolled in the
college preparatory track.
b. Between 35 and 80 percent of EU high school students enroll in
what those in the United States would call vocational programs,
but according to Richard Owen, most vocational programs in the
EU are equivalent in rigor to U.S. college preparatory programs.
IIIThe Promise of Education
1. Most Americans (as early as first grade) are taught to equate education
with increased job opportunities and higher salaries.
2. In the U.S., the connection between a college education, job
opportunities, and higher salaries is not always realized on a personal
140 Chapter 13
1. Core Concept 5: Most, if not all, education systems sort students into
distinct instructional groups according to similarities in past academic
performance, performance on standardized tests, or even anticipated
2. The following rationales underlie ability grouping, streaming, or
a. Students learn better when they are grouped with those who learn
at the same rate.
b. Slow learners develop more positive attitudes when they do not
have to compete with the more academically capable.
c. Groups of students with similar abilities are easier to teach than
students of various abilities.
3. Research suggests that tracking has a positive effect on high-track
students, a negative effect on low-track students, and no noticeable
effect on middle-track or regular-track students.
4. Sociologist Jeannie Oakes (1985) investigated through a classic study
how tracking affected the academic experiences of 13,719 middle
school and high school students in 297 classrooms and 25 schools
across the United States.
a. Poor and minority students were disproportionately placed in the
b. The different tracks were not treated as equally valued
c. As reflected in teachers’ attitudes and in student to student and
teacher to student relationships, clear differences existed in the
classroom climate and in the quality, content, and quantity of
d. Low-track students did not develop positive images of themselves.
e. The brighter students tended to do well regardless of the academic
achievements of the students with whom they learned.
f. Efforts to detrack have collided with demands from politically
powerful parents of high-achieving or “gifted” students.
5. EU countries track students according to academic abilities.
a. They do not offer students in lower tracks a watered-down or
simpler version of a subject matter.
b. Lower-track students do not take basic math, while those in higher
tracks take algebra.
B. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
1. A self-fulfilling prophecy in education can occur if teachers and
administrators assume that some students are “fast,” “average,” or
“slow” learners and, consequently, expose these students to “fast,”
“average,” and “slow” learning environments.
2. Over time, real differences in quantity, quality, and content of
instruction cause many students to actually become (and believe that
they are) “slow,” “average,” or “fast.”
C. Formal and Hidden Curricula
1. Core Concept 6: Schools and teachers everywhere and at all levels of
education teach two curricula simultaneously: a formal one and a
2. Formal curriculum is comprised of the various academic subjects.
3. Hidden curriculum includes the teaching method, the types of
assignments and tests, the teacher’s tone of voice, the attitudes of
classmates, the number of students absent, the frequency of the
teacher’s absences, the number of interruptions during a lesson, and