In What Ways Do Social Class, Gender and Ethnicity Intersect with Educational Attainment and Participation? Provide Some Examples to Illustrate.

Topics: Higher education, Secondary education, High school Pages: 5 (1895 words) Published: February 13, 2013
Sociology Essay

In what ways do social class, gender and ethnicity intersect with educational attainment and participation? Provide some examples to illustrate.

Nearly thirteen years into the new millennium and so many of the gaps most noticeable within the education system in the twentieth century have been closed. Attainment and participation in both primary and secondary education is now almost equally open to boys and girls from around the world, and tertiary education is even seeing a bias in women’s attendance over men. However, despite these positive changes, social class, gender and ethnicity still have a major impact on education and intersect with not only attendance, but with personal achievement too.

Since the industrial revolution in the mid 1700s, our world has changed dramatically. Education, through new technologies and the creation of new jobs, has become a compulsory and necessary part of our lives. With focus on economy, politics and individualization rather than the traditional household and religious roles of life, we have become much more dependent on knowledge, as education provides multicultural experiences for many different classes that home life would just not be able to do.

First of all I am going to investigate social class and it’s impact on educational achievement. Worldwide, 121 million children are denied access to education, especially in low-income countries and there are many reasons for this. It can depend on their teachers, peer influence, parental guidance, financial situations, willingness to learn and willingness to succeed. Children from lower classes or those in poverty, while they may still avail of free public education and may be forced into compulsory education by the law, they still do not have to try to attain anything or to achieve anything in school. Teachers may not give them the attention they deserve because of their social class; their parents may not be supportive and may not care how well they do, this can lead them to lose motivation and interest in their education due to a lack of attention. There are other reasons too, for example, children from bad backgrounds or living in bad areas may be influenced by their peers to dismiss school or to not try in school because it is not deemed “cool”. On the other hand, children from affluent or privileged backgrounds are also susceptible to this because of lack of direction or attention from parents who may be working frequently. Some students do not attain good results in school because they adopt the attitude that can be described as, “Real Englishmen”, where they feel they are better than the teachers and can effortlessly achieve good grades in school. (Mac an Ghaill, M. 1994.) Middle class parents are also in a better position to take advantage of increasing school choice. It is unfair on the lower social classes because they have limited access to certain (oversubscribed) schools due to set admissions criteria. For example, a private boarding school such as Glenstal Abbey School in Limerick, charges fees of €15,100, which limit attendance of the school to certain groups. In 2011-2012 this was the number one school in Ireland according to the Sunday Times Magazine, and the majority of students there attained great leaving certificate results. Children in lower classes cannot afford to go to private schools such as this without scholarships, which are also limited, so they don’t have the same opportunity as upper class children to achieve good results. Hence their social class intersects with their educational attainment.

Social class can have a major effect on educational attainment. Both regional and national results’ averages can be brought down drastically by students who, for some reason or other, do not try in school. It could be the wealthy kids who don’t care, or the lower class children who are not supported. Either way, there has been a fall in the standards of results in recent years due to weaker...

References: * Mac an Ghaill, M. (1994) The Making of Men: Masculinities, Sexualities & Schooling
* Page, E. Jha, J. Commonwealth (2009) Exploring the Bias: Gender + Stereotyping in Secondary Schools
* OECD (2010) PISA 2009 results learning trends: changes in student performances since 2000
* Source: WDR 2012 team estimates based on World Development Indicators.
* OECD PISA (2006)
* Source: Faas, D. Ross, W. (2012) “Identity and Diversity and citizenship”, International Sociology 27(4) 574-59
* Connors H, Tyers C., Modood T, Hillage J. (2004) ResearchReport RR552, Department of Education and Skills
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