Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Talking Points #8: Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work

1. "Several weeks later, after a test, a group of her children 'still didn't get it', and she made no attempt to explain the concept of dividing things into groups or to give them manipulables for their own investigation. Rather, she went over the steps with them again and told them that they 'needed more practice'."

This quote is relative to working class schools according to Anyon. It makes me feel angry towards the teacher for blaming the student's misunderstanding on them. I believe that if the majority of students in a class are not understanding a concept, then it is most likely the fault of the teacher. She should have tried other ways of explaining the concept to the children. Anyon's observations noted that the teachers of working class schools were very vague with the students. They gave them little explanation and mostly had them copy notes. For example, when teaching the children geography, one teacher did not even refer to a map at all.

2. "There is little excitement in schoolwork for the children, and the assignments are perceived as having little to do with their interests and feelings. As one child said, what you do is 'store facts up in your head like cold storage-until you need it later for a test or your job.' Thus, doing well is important because there are thought to be other likely rewards: a good job or college."

In middle-class schools, schoolwork is based upon getting the right answer. There is little creativity that goes on in the classroom. It is as if the point of school is to get the children ready for something else, such as college or a job. This quote is demonstrating that students do not find what they are learning of interest. They feel as if they go to school because it is necessary for the future. They do not find it intriguing at all. Although the teachers are a little more leniant with answers and ideas, they do not go into full explanation on many topics because they do not want them to become controversial. It is difficult for students to ask the questions that they want in this type of situation.

3. "Each child was to prepare a worksheet or game and a homework assignment as well. After each presentation, the teacher and other children gave a critical appraisal of the 'student teacher's' performance....On any occasion when a child did not maintain control, the teacher said, 'When you're up there, you have authority and you have to use it. I'll back you up.'"

The executive elite school is one step above the affluent professional school. In the professional school the teachers are more understanding, give more freedom, and incorporate more activity. However, in the executive elite school, children are encouraged to disagree. There are many discussions and children are asked for their opinions. Instead of just memorizing ideas, the teacher has the students analyze them. There are not many creative projects given. Most importantly, these students are encouraged to take charge. In this quote, the teacher wants the student to teach the class and use their power to control the other students in the classroom. This school is already training these children to have authority because they will most likely have jobs of this component in the future.

Although the points made in this argument are interesting, I feel as though much more research needs to be done. This article is based on only five particular schools, all in New Jersey. However, there is good reason to believe that this may be the case in other locations as well. These schools effect the development of children. This means that children will continue to learn on the basis of their social class, even though as a child they are unable to control what social class they are a part of. If these schools really are prepping students based on their social class, whether or not it is on purpose, it will be much more difficult for the students to change social classes when they are older. This article is very relative to Linda Christensen's article, Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us. Even though her article is mostly about the media effecting children, and Anyon's article is about schools which group social classes and teach based on the concepts of that class, they both have one basic idea. Children are effected indirectly by many factors.

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