Influencing An Individuals Approach To Learning Education Essay

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When looking at a students level of achievement or understanding through the prism of social class there is significant evidence to show that the higher a pupils social class, the higher their level of educational achievement is likely to be. This is perhaps a view taken by functionalists who tend to assume that the educational system is a meritocracy and that educational merit may be reached through ability. Therefore some would argue that intelligence is in part determined by inheritance of genes. Furthermore these pupils are more likely to stay on past the point of post-compulsory education, and are more likely to achieve examination passes when at school, and are more likely to get entrance into a university.

When comparing a boy from the service class to a boy in the working class it was found that they had 4 times as great a chance of being at school at 16, 8 times the chance at 17 and 10 times the chance at 18. Further more they had 11 times greater chance of going to university.

In today's society, the government believes that the classes system no longer exists. However, very few people want to agree with this. It is possible that some sort of class system still exists when examining the educational system. It used to be believed that the intelligence of a child could be determined by what social class they were in. To some extent, this is still true because some Universities would favour a student who went to a private school, even if another student got higher examination results than them, but went to a state school. This can be seen as discrimination against certain social groups because children from a working class background are less likely to get into a public school for various reasons (they cannot afford the education fees, they do not have the 'right' image etc).

Previously, poverty has been linked to underachievement in schools. The Secretary of Education, Estelle Morris, stated that children from a 'working class' background are less likely to gain 5 A*-C grades at GCSE level. The lack of disposable income leads to material disadvantages, and then in turn can lead to educational underachievement. The family may not be able to raise money for educational school trips, or additional learning materials, for example, a computer connected to the Internet. This can lead to a decrease in school attendance level, and the child missing out on valuable learning time, making it more likely for the child to underachieve in examinations. The amount of extra learning materials at home can have an effect because the child has access to more information and different learning styles. This means they may be able to understand the work better, and thus achieve a higher mark. These statements are, however, generalised and may not apply to every 'working class' family.

If there is less financial support, then children may miss out on school trips, or extra resource material at home. If the children did not do as well in their GCSE's, then they cannot go on to do higher education (A-levels etc) or go to university. This means that they cannot get as higher status job as a person who went on to continue their education. The cycle then continues, with the children of a 'working class' person not earning as highly as a person in a higher status job.

The amount of parental interest in education can encourage a child to do better, or not put as much effort into their studies. Estelle Morris stated in a newspaper report that children from a background where both parents were 'professionals' were more likely to go to University. Because of the social stereotype of the 'working' class, the parents of working class children as seen to be more difficult and do not take as much interest in their children's education. This may influence the child and discourage them from working at school and getting good qualifications. If a child's parents show an interest in their school work, then the child is more likely to take pride in what they do, and work harder in order to please their parents.

Working - class pupils do not do as well on average as middle - class pupils. Some of the arguments about underachievement by working -class pupils go back to the 1970s and earlier. When most working - class pupils were sent to secondary modern schools the underachievement was linked to this type of school. This is no longer the case. State education is free, so the fact that working - class families are less well off should not make a difference.

Phillips, M (Phillips 1998: 12-13) backs up the above point noting that in the last few decades education has been about making children feel good about themselves. So that no one should feel inferior to anyone or of failure. This is explained greater as his reason behind this was that it was believed, children from poorer backgrounds started at a clear disadvantage and so were incapable as learning the same as more well off children. But there is no evidence to suggest this and poorer children more structured teaching. Similar to Montessori (Montessori 1995) who believed that children learnt in three stages of development. The idea that children pass through stages of development, and the assertion that they cannot learn or be taught to function at higher levels before passing through lower ones, were taken up and formed into the basis for a new theory of learning readiness.

Piaget backs this statement by suggesting that learning to talk and walk follow a natural time scale, as trying to teach very young children, to talk will fail, it happens when they are naturally ready without deliberate teaching by adults (Piaget 1995).

This may be a matter of money, but still can reflect differences in values. Middle - class children are more likely have been socialized in to ideas about how important it is to do well and how it is worth studying hard to get a good job in the future.

Working - class children may even find the way they speak holds up their achievement. Success in schools requires being able to speak and write in what is seen as 'correct' English; middle - class children are likely to find this easier because are living in the society that speaks the 'correct English' therefore it is much easier for these children to speak properly. Where as working - class children may lack role models in there everyday life.

We may not succeed if we are from a poor background because parents are asked to pay for a lot of things like P.E kit, uniforms, internet and so on. Middle - class parents are more likely to be able to afford extras like a place on an optional school trip, extra books or even a tutor to give them extra help if they are finding a subject hard. For children from working class families it is a struggle to get by, many families are working to meet their survival needs there may not even have a proper breakfast, which makes it difficult to concentrate in class.

Living Conditions at home might help middle-class students to study. They are more likely to have a quiet place to do homework. For example working class may be living in crowded, unhealthy living conditions etc... Middle- class parents are also more likely to be able to provide 'cultural capital'. For example, there may be money for a tutor, more books in the home, educational toys, a computer to use, visits to museums and so on.

When most working - class pupils were sent to secondary modern schools the underachievement was linked to this type of school. This is no longer the case. State education is free, so the fact that working - class families are less well off should not make a difference.

This may be a matter of money, but still can reflect differences in values. Middle - class children are more likely have been socialized in to ideas about how important it is to do well and how it is worth studying hard to get a good job in the future.

Working - class children may even find the way they speak holds up their achievement. Success in schools requires being able to speak and write in what is seen as 'correct' English; middle - class children are likely to find this easier because are living in the society that speaks the 'correct English' therefore it is much easier for these children to speak properly

When looking at Gender in education there have always been very strong gender related stereotypes. This is mainly because of the high levels of inequality in the past; women were always seen as the weaker sex that needed to be protected by a man (the stronger sex). These inequalities then influenced the roles that males and females did in the home. These social stereotypes can be very influential during Primary Socialisation.

This continued into secondary school life where boys were meant to be better at more practical subjects, for example, sciences and PE, and girls preferred written or creative work, for example, English and art. These divides led to different subjects being viewed in different ways. Science was seen as being a traditionally masculine subject, and it demonstrated sexual inequalities. Teachers were predominantly male, science lacked presence of females. and girls were alienated from experiments. These reasons can be recognised as factors that affected how well girls did in science. These are all generalised statements-and in many cases are not true. Teachers did not expect girls to do as well as boys; teachers did not think careers were as important for girls.

So Holt believes that schools teach children to fear failure, to suppress their curiosity and become dependant rewards as motivation to learn. Holt argues that the extent and purpose of schooling should be to motivate us and help us learn, as learning for rewards takes the joy out of learning, instead of learning for themselves (Holt 1990: 111-113).

In answer to this question various explanations have been provided, for example the most common explanation is that girls mature quicker than boys and thus this is why they do better in earlier years which explained their superior achievement to boys at the 11 plus exams. . In the 11 plus entry exams for secondary schools, it was found that girls were set higher targets than boys to reduce the number of girls in grammar schools, compared to the female-dominated primary schools.

This argument has now been discarded generally as it does not explain why girls are now over taking boys at all levels, except degree level. Another explanation put forward is the way in which girls are socialized at a young age, for example (Sharpe 1976) in her study of working class girls in London, 'Just like a Girl' found that girls priorities were marriage, family life rather than jobs and careers.

In the past few years boys have been under achieving rather than with girls. But boys are doing better today but their performance has not risen as quickly as that of girls. Here is some factors that have been suggested a 'lad dish anti - learning culture' boys do not work as hard because they will be criticised by other boys.

There are also related differences in attitudes to school and work: girls work more consistently: boys are more easily distracted from their work. Girls can work steadily at long projects like coursework boys find it harder to be organised. Girls are willing to spend more time doing homework, not rushing it. In the 1970s girls used to fall behind at A level. But now more females are passing their A levels. More males went to university, now more women go to university than men. It has also been suggested that boys do better without girls. Boys often say girls distract then and some of their disruptive behaviour may be showing off intended to impress the girls.

Students in lower sets feel humiliated if their friends are all achieving high marks and they are not doing very well. Teaching in mixed ability groups takes away the 'labels' which students have according to their set. Students learn to help and co-operate each other.

On the other hand Stereotyping/and or Labelling of ethnicity is a major problem within the school system, and this often leads to inequalities between different cultural groups. These stereotypes are often generalised, so this increases the inequality because everybody from that ethnical group is treated the same, regardless of the individual's targets intelligence or attitude.

It appears that Afro-Caribbean children are treated differently to Whites or Asians. As Afro-Caribbean's who scored the same as White pupils in a test were put into lower sets instead of Higher sets GCSE. This trend seems to run throughout many subjects e.g. English, Maths, French and Physics. The sets were not solely based on the scores, but it were also based on the teachers opinion of the individual. This system of setting the children based on the teachers' opinion instead of only the tests scores could lead to discrimination because the teachers could be racist. Gillborn (Gillborn 1990) found that Afro-Caribbean children were more likely to be given detentions than other students. Teacher misinterpreted the dress and manner of speech of most Afro-Caribbean pupils as representing an extra challenge.

Conclusion

In conclusion the social class makes a difference on how well you are educated. There are other important factors such as your gender, ability, ethnicity, home environment. The level of sport from parents/ carers. The persons own cognitive ability and the level of motivation. Politics also plays it part on how well the schools are able to prepare its pupils with essential life skills depending on the funds they receive.

After looking into the matters of educational achievement and the factors of class and gender, it can be seen that they indeed have an effect on how highly a child achieves during their educational years. Stereotyping, labelling and, due to these, discrimination was a major cause of underachievement because this system appears not to consider the attitudes, intelligence or ability of the individual and because of this, people can be labelled as something that they are not. Discrimination can be identified in all of the three cases, so this makes it a larger problem. I think this is wrong because it is impossible to say that, because a child comes from a certain background, they will gain higher or lower marks than the next person.

Lev Vygotsky believed that children learn through social interactions, and Bruner (Bruner 1983) suggests learning can be developed through scaffolding (Walkrup 2004). Therefore, it may be useful to invite visitors into the setting, to show diversity in the community, and to promote partnerships with parents (Rice 2005). The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE 2000 as cited in Rice 2005: 76) suggests that educational settings should not see diversity as a problem but as 'a rich resource to support the learning of all'. However, practitioners should be aware of conflict between anti-discriminatory practice and the beliefs and values of the family (Hughes 1991).

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