SOC224H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: System On A Chip, Numeracy
by Nehan Afreen
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Week 8, Chap 5
Nov 2, Mon, 2015
Chap 5: The Structural Transformation of Schooling - Pgs 87-96
-Huge expansion of schooling over the 20th century → What impact has expansion had on the
structure of school system?
-This chapter examines established forms of stratification (i.e streaming) in Canadian education over
the past 1/2 century.
-Schooling structures are undergoing 3 transformations:
1) 1st, pressured by egalitarian impulses, schools are accommodating more and more types of
students, diversifying their offerings, and greatly expanding their range of programs, courses,
2) 2nd, pressured by selection impulses, segments of education are also becoming more
competitive, as certain segments are able to generate more demand than others.
3) 3rd, these crosscutting pressures are changing the form of stratification in Canadian
-While K-12 schools have long sorted students for different futures, that selection
process is slowly moving upwards into the higher education.
Thinking Structurally: Established Stratification
-In the past, access in schooling was promoted but advantages were not evenly distributed. Girls and
First Nations children were channeled into specific education routes.
-Canadian high schools have for many years been organized. Refer to Fig 5.1 on pg 89.
-Students enter secondary schools that are internally organized into different streams.
-Streaming consists of splitting students into ability groups, and channeling these groups into an upper
stream bound for post-secondary schooling and lower tiers offering vocational training. Curricula
differ significantly b/w these streams.
-Students in upper tiers are exposed to advanced maths & acclaimed literary works, while those in
lower tiers focus on the rudiments of literacy, numeracy, and practical workplace skills. These streams
serve as institutional mechanisms that shape students post-secondary options and eventual labour
-Some educators want to abandon stratification, arguing that any form of streaming serves to
stigmatize some students and reduce their aspirations.
-Others believe that a minimal streaming is necessary for students with modest academic abilities.
-How did “common” schools become streamed? By and large, dominant families undermined the
egalitarian rhetoric of early public schools by striving to protect their advantages.
-Most parents wanted their boys to become breadwinners. The British wanted to ensure their continued
privilege over other ethnic immigrants. Most importantly, the middle classes wanted to provide
superior opportunities for their offspring.
-Their lobbying efforts made school formally accessible to all, but also internally differentiated, giving
some routes (ie streams) better opportunities than did others.
-Thus, ever since such data were amassed, youth from less advantaged backgrounds have been greatly
over-represented in lower stream (ex: those leading to less rewarding jobs).
-It does happen that many students from poorer families enter academic streams & vice versa, but their
probability of doing so is much less than for those from wealthier backgrounds.
-Modern schools eventually took forms that resembled "social selection machines."
-Based on a belief that not all students can benefit from the same curriculum, they channeled students
into different types of schools and programs & assigned different badges of ability.
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