Sunday, June 15, 2008

Reinforcing Class Roles in Public Education

I was reading one of my listed Blogs - Education and Class - and responded to an article about Teaching Working Class Kids. The part that caught my eye was how "real "to do keep it when teaching kids. The fact is there are barriers out there that get in the way of working class and poor students, but as Eduwonkette pointed out we can’t tell kids, “Forget it. The deck is stacked against you. Give up.” But if we simply tell them, “Work hard. Be nice” . We teach compliance with a system structured to favor some over others. How, then, to navigate this chasm that is also called the “achievement gap?”

Here is my response.

Working hard and being nice is good, but not enough. At least by middle school age (definitely high school) kids begin to see the class differences - school district a vs b or kids in college track classes vs vo-tech classes. They may not be able to describe it, but they recognize it and begin to respond (rebel). The most clever kids realized it, called it what it was and was able to manuever. I think I was that kind of kid. I hate unfairness, but I accept it is real, confront it when possible, and exploit the technicalities in my favor if fairness fails.

I always favored telling students what was real — giving them the playbook to how successful people do it. The challenge is that parents and most other adults in many working-class kids lives tell them the be nice, make good grades speech. So even if a teacher does give the youth the real deal, the message is overwhelmed by the more common, but vague messages from home.

Many of these kids rarely get detailed explanations or descriptions of what to do or how to do things in life or what is expected of them in adulthood. I noticed the exact opposite among my better-off friends in middle and high school. Their parents gave them specific suggestions or instructions about what to expect from life & what they expected of them.

I sometimes thinks it’s these details - or lack thereof - that lay the foundation for some kids taking off after high school & some just hanging around the neighborhood hoping for a break.

Update:
Jazzy at Because I Said so has some interesting words related to this subjectreat M
The Great American Equalizer

2 comments:

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Paulo Freire the Brazilian educationalist, in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed

said oppresions is taught, inculcated = we are not educated but rather trained in essence

Jazzy said...

@SES you are exactly correct without a detail map for some the journey of navigating through life is infinitely more difficult than it need be. We can teach our children and still our community at large to circumvent these obstacles, we have to train them to know that hard work and good grades do not necessary translate into wealth. We must begin to outfit our youth and community with truths that are being hid so that they have the necessary tools for success. Education means very little if the student or mentee does not know how to use it to their advantage. Thanks for the link.