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Chapter 12

SOC103H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Old Age, Numeracy, Grade Inflation


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC103H1
Professor
Lorne Tepperman
Chapter
12

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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

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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
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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 <$25,000 engaged in post-secondary education
80% 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
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