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Chapter 12

SOC103 Starting Points Chapter 12

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Lorne Tepperman

Chapter 12 – Schools and Formal Education - Education is a process designed to develop capacities for critical thinking, self-understanding, and self-reliance o One of the most valuable means of gaining a healthy, comfortable life o In the past, education was a privilege reserved for the wealthy o Today, education is considered a right for every child o Credentialism is the rising need for more sophisticated educational qualifications  In the past, a high school diploma was enough qualification to get a job  Today, employers demand more impressive credentials  The minimum entry-level requirement is a B.A. or college diploma o Form of primary socialization  Delivers societal values  Increases people’s ability to understand current events and public debates  Enable people to form sound opinions and react accordingly - Education is not a level playing field, and it doesn’t level the playing field o People who have more get more and people who have less stay where they are o Many parents are able to pass on social advantages to their children through the mechanism of higher education - Education continues to preserve inequalities o Many societies around the world have tried to make a high quality education available to everyone and to base educational systems strictly on merit (grades), which tell us which candidates are the most deserving o Meritocracy system depends entirely on the quality of the testing procedure - Formal education is education received in accredited schools during formal teaching sessions (schools, colleges, universities) - Informal education is the variety of ways we undertake to gain knowledge for ourselves outside of formal education Ways of looking at EDUCATION - Functionalism o Focus on the manifest functions and latent functions of education o Focus on improving the abilities of workers to bring significant value to workplaces through knowledge and skills o Manifest functions  At the secondary level, to give all students literacy and numeracy skills and some students specific job skills  At the post-secondary level, to give some students liberal arts training (prepares people to be informed citizens) and occupational training (prepares people to be valuable members of the workforce)  Training is a process designed to develop capacities for specific routines that achieve desired results  To give students human capital and skills - Critical theories o Focus on the latent functions of education  The role of schools in warehousing unemployed young people  The way schools keep young people off the streets  The school as a source of hidden curriculum (the lessons that unintentionally teach students) that teaches students their place in society according to their gender and social class  To train students in patient obedience  To teach students to hold themselves responsible for success and failure, especially in a capitalist society - Symbolic interactionism o To teach students how to dress and behave o To teach students how to dress for success Classic studies: The Academic Revolution (1968) - Christopher Jencks and David Riesman o The evolving role of higher education in modern, post-industrial society o Academic revolution is the rise of research universities  The decrease in undergraduate teaching  The increase in graduate teaching  The struggle for top faculty, top students, and increased funding from government  To provide every student (regardless of class, race, sex) with education and a chance of upward mobility  Professors have gained greater visibility and importance  Widely known to their peers through publication, conferences, and grant-getting  Primarily concerned with research and graduate teaching  Determine the character of undergraduate education  Shape the academic revolution by promoting meritocracy  Meritocracy is a system of rule where the rewards are strictly distributed based on ability, and all people have the same opportunity to win these rewards o Generational war is the resistance to the academic revolution, which is based on meritocracy  The youth who resent adult authority  The locals who resent foreign students  The religious who resent secular education  The social elite who resent upward social mobility from the lower classes o However, the academic revolution has not succeeded fully  Positions in the top colleges and universities continue to be limited  Students from wealthy backgrounds continue to be most able to gain entry  Lack of true meritocracy in school systems is due to the overall social inequality of American society  Greater energies must be directed to making American society more equal o Criticism  Does not provide new insights into the state of American colleges and universities  Does not offer more than half-hearted suggestions for reform  Others felt personally attacked by marginal colleges (local, black, religious, women’s colleges) - John Porter o Research universities have played an important role in the upward mobility of immigrants and minorities - Jonathan Cole o Focus on the social values that underlie the work of a research university o Research universities are a source of scientific research and technological innovation - Statistics Canada o Canada has a much smaller system of colleges and universities than the US o Canada’s colleges and universities have a much smaller range of inequality due to regulation and accreditation o Most Canadian students have at least one or two good universities in their province  Canadians are less likely than Americans to seek a degree far from home o Canada has seen an educational reform similar to the Americans  Growth of research universities  Decline of undergraduate teaching  Students competing for entry into the top educational programs  Institutions competing for the top faculty and graduate students  Decreased public funding  Increased private endowments  Increased pressure to raise tuitions o About 23% of the Canadian population (25-64) has a university degree o About 50% of a Canadian university’s operating costs are paid by student tuitions, which continues to rise - Andrew Hacker o Focus on the high tuition fees at top universities o Focus on the injustice of the labour system (tenured and tenure-track professors earn most of the money, but most of the teaching is done by non-tenure-track adjuncts)  Large graduate programs produce new Ph.D.s who can’t get suitable jobs  More funding for medical, scientific, and business programs  Large class sizes denies students of legitimate learning - Educational inequalities o Schools are often levelling the playing field for disadvantaged people (women, racial minorities) o Continuing gender differences in salary and rank reflect the reluctance of women to enter higher-paid male venues  Women continue to apply to traditionally female-dominated programs (teaching, social work)  Women are less likely to seek careers in math and computer science  Women who complete the same programs as men are likely to have less successful careers  Self-selection determines what happens to men and women at school and after graduation  Women are more willing to give primacy to family duties o Many racial and ethnic groups in Canada  Experienced increases in educational attainment  Due to the selection of highly educated immigrants  Not due to minority groups advancing within the educational system  Continue to face obstacles in educational and occupational advancement  Due to language barriers and financial difficulties  Due to the unacceptability of many foreign credentials by Canadian employers  Due to the requirement of Canadian working experience  More likely to push their children to get college diplomas and university degrees  Represents an effort to regain a socio-economic status that they held in their native country  Reflects the understanding that investment in higher education is the best long-term investment a non-wealthy person can make o Formal education is a means to a secure income and social acceptance o Aboriginal groups in Canada are under-represented in colleges and universities  Reflects the harmful legacy of residential schooling and discriminatory educational policies  Reflects the social, cultural, and economic factors that continue to hinder many minorities  Shortage of social and cultural capital reduces the likelihood of seeking and gaining higher education o Statistics Canada (2006)  1 in 3 Aboriginals did not complete high school compared to 1 in 8 non-Aboriginals  8% of Aboriginals earned a university degree compared to 23% of non-Aboriginals  Educational achievements are more common for Aboriginals living in cities, compared to living on reserves o Children from poorer socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to gain a higher education  An inequality in educational (and occupational) attainment begins early in life  Schools in lower-class neighbourhoods are not as well funded as schools in affluent neighbourhoods  Government cutbacks on educational spending puts financial burden on parents o Situation in post-secondary institutions  Rising tuition fees (increasing 37% between 2000 and 2008)  Rising costs of textbooks, technology, and supplies  Students are unable to continue higher education studies, especially without financial support from parents  Students are unwilling or unable to take on large loans  60% of young adults (18-24) from families with income $100,000 engaged in post-secondary education o Failure to continue on to post-secondary education reflects a cultural failure  The failure of our culture to support and encourage high education aspirations, especially among poor and rural native-born people Classic studies: The Adolescent Society (1966) - James Coleman o Schools have replaced families as places where young people learn about the world o Finds that for teenagers and young adults in high school, and maybe even in elementary schools  Academic achievement means nothing  Looking good means everything  Physical appearance counts for more than brains o Argues that the distinct adolescent subculture in high schools separate from the adult world  good looks count for a lot, but so do brains, hard work, and academic achievement o Adolescent way of thinking is strongly dysfunctional for society  Discourages academic ambition  Undermines the preparation of students for the real world  Cuts adolescents off from most parts of the adult world  Fails to prepare adolescents for adult life o Adolescent society developed from social changes associated with industrialization  Separate adolescents from adults  Adolescents seek approval from age peers  New ranking system is based on non-adult values, which was a part of their identity  Academic success viewed as conformity to social order, something that adolescents tried to avoid o Criticism  Parents are just as shallow as their children  Adolescent value system is a reflection of the larger society’s major values  Athletic scholarships to post-secondary institutions are more numerous than academic rewards  Millions of men remain glued to the television on hockey or football nights o The book is a critique of American adolescents, and a hidden critique of American culture and society - Ability grouping or streaming o Some schools minimize the variation between students by segregating different kinds of students  Best students receive the most challenging and enriched education  Less-gifted students are spared the humiliation of struggling with materials and competing against students o Three main types of ability grouping  Ability  Found in elementary schools  Students divided according to their ability to handle new material  Setting  Found in high schools  Different classes exist in each subject (honours, academic, applied, general, vocational)  Students are assigned to classes according to ability in that particular subject  Tracking (or streaming)  Students move as a block from one class to another, so they take all classes within a certain level o Sometimes called a core group o Advantages  Allows pupils to advance according to their abilities  Adapts instructional techniques to the needs of the group  Reduces failures  Helps to preserve interest and incentive  Faster pupils are not bored  Slower pupils engage more  Makes teaching easier  Allows teachers to give individual instruction to small groups with specific abilities  Less likely to confront students with their inadequacy in comparison to able students o Disadvantages  Slow pupils need the presence of able students to stimulate and encourage them  Pupils who are placed in low classes with a stigma attached are discouraged  Prevent their advancement if their abilities are not accurately assessed  Students are weaker in one subject and stronger in another  Students develop later than other students  Teachers are unable to specify the work for different levels of ability  High-ability groups receive more work rather than different work  Teachers may object to teaching slower groups  Reproduces social inequalities  Minority and lower-class students are more likely to end up in the lowest streams because they have not been socialized to be ambitious and do not have the same resources as higher-class students  Lower-class students receive instruction that is slower-paced, lower quality, and different from higher-class students (cover less material and receive less detailed analysis)  Lower-class students (poor and from minority groups) leave school with fewer skills for employment, less knowledge of society, and less faith in their ability to influence their own lives - Segregation or distance in schools o Not all students have the same educational experiences because some attend unconventional schools  Private schools  Advantages o Much less class and ethnic or religious variety o Receive a better education o Better preparation to compete for top university and occupational positions  Single-race schools  Advantages o Decrease dropout and failure rates o Meet academic and emotional needs o Provide social services to help students cope with various problems  Single-sex schools  Evidence is inconclusive for research about whether girls, or boys, do better in same-sex or mixed- sex schools and colleges  Advantages o Reduce the degree of opposite sex preening  Disadvantages o Unfamiliarity with the opposite sex o Useless air of mystery to the opposite sex  Home-schooling  Many states and provinces allow children to legally be taught at home o Must be registered with the school system o Must have curriculum of study approved, which is often difficult  Advantages o Not exposed to ideas of multiculturalism and equality of all peoples o Not exposed to scientific ideas that disagree with religious beliefs o Not brainwashed o Disadvantages of segregated schools  Minimize contact with students from different demographics  Decrease familiarity with different groups  Less public visibility and accountability  More vulnerable to harm and neglect  Separate from others who are socially different  Increase suspici
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