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Assess the View That Social Class Differences in Educational Underachievement’s Are the Result of School Processes Such as Labelling.

In: Social Issues

Submitted By jkaur1996
Words 2534
Pages 11
Many sociologists would agree school processes such as labelling have an effect on a child’s educational achievement. However there are many other school processes that cause underachievement. These will be discussed below.

To label someone is to attach a meaning or definition to them. For example, teachers may label a student as smart, thick, hardworking or troublemaker. Studies have shown that teachers often attach such labels regardless of the pupil’s actual ability or attitude. Instead they label pupils on the basis of stereotyped assumptions about their class background.

Howard Becker (1971) carried out an important interactionist study of labelling. He carried out interviews with 60 Chicago high school teachers. His findings were that they judged pupils according to how closely they fitted an image of the ‘ideal pupil’. Pupils work, conduct and appearance were key factors influencing teacher’s judgements. Middle class children were seen as the closest to ideal by teachers however lower working class children were seen as furthest away from it because they regarded them as badly behaved.

Aaron Cicourel and john Kitsuse’s (1963) study of educational councillors in an American high school shows how such labelling can disadvantage working class students. Cicourel and Kitsuse found inconsistences in the way the councillors assessed students’ suitability for courses. Although they claimed to judge students according to their ability, in practice they judged students largely on the basis of their social class and/or race.

Another type of social process that leads to educational underachievement is streaming. Streaming involves separating children into different ability groups or classes called streams. Each ability group is then taught separately from the others, for all subjects. As Becker shows, teachers do not usually see working class...

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