Education is the doorway out of poverty, and standing in that doorway blocking the poor and the minority are the people with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. “Critics blasted the department of educationfor linking federal dollars to state adoption of standards such as the Common Core…clashes with teachers unions over strong support for charter schools, a system that does an end run around those standing in the doorway to block progress and using teacher scores to evaluate teachers. The secretary of education will resign after spending his years in service to the Obama’s administration, draging a system kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The people standing in the doorway are religious and secular, preachers, teachers, politicians, all determined to see that America continues to have its share of toilet scrubbers. The very idea of the poor becoming rich and upsetting the status quo is too difficult to comprehend. The idea of the country needing a poor class for the other groups to have merit cannot even be discussed. When you go to sleep at night, think about the zip codes, which are used to plan the future prison population, and the zip codes used to prepare the university seats for the leaders of tomorrow, and ask yourself, is this the kind of country in which I want to live? America owes itself a better answer, and better yet, it owes itself better behaviors.

Education and Social Reproduction

This idea of creating social classes through education did not start in America, it started in Europe and England used it in all of her colonies. The following is a report on what is happening in Australia, note the similarity between conceptual thought in Australia education system, and the un stated hidden curriculum in our American system.For those who doubt that these are real issues, the research for these theories are included. This is a shame, but it is behind all of the conflict in our vest educational system, we as educators just do not know how to adress the issue.

The perspective of conflict theory, contrary to the structural functionalist perspective, believes that society is full of vying social groups with different aspirations, different access to life chances and gain different social rewards [10]. Relations in society, in this view, are mainly based on exploitation, oppression, domination and subordination.[3] Some conflict theorists believe education is controlled by the state which is controlled by the powerful, and its purpose is to reproduce existing inequalities, as well as legitimise ‘acceptable’ ideas which actually work to reinforce the privileged positions of the dominant group. [10] Connell and White state that the education system is as much an arbiter of social privilege as a transmitter of knowledge. [11]

Education achieves its purpose by maintaining the status quo, where lower-class children become lower class adults, and middle and upper class children become middle and upper-class adults. This cycle occurs because the dominant group has, over time, closely aligned education with middle class values and aims, thus alienating people of other classes.[11] Many teachers assume that students will have particular middle class experiences at home, and for some children this assumption isn’t necessarily true.[8] Some children are expected to help their parents after school and carry considerable domestic responsibilities in their often single-parent home.[12] The demands of this domestic labour often make it difficult for them to find time to do all their homework and thus affects their academic performance.

Where teachers have softened the formality of regular study and integrated student’s preferred working methods into the curriculum, they noted that particular students displayed strengths they had not been aware of before.[12] However few teacher deviate from the traditional curriculum, and the curriculum conveys what constitutes knowledge as determined by the state – and those in power [Young in [3]]. This knowledge isn’t very meaningful to many of the students, who see it as pointless.[8] Wilson & Wyn state that the students realise there is little or no direct link between the subjects they are doing and their perceived future in the labour market.[12] Anti-school values displayed by these children are often derived from their consciousness of their real interests. Sargent believes that for working class students, striving to succeed and absorbing the school’s middle class values, is accepting their inferior social position as much as if they were determined to fail.[3] Fitzgerald states that “irrespective of their academic ability or desire to learn, students from poor families have relatively little chance of securing success”.[13] On the other hand, for middle and especially upper-class children, maintaining their superior position in society requires little effort. The federal government subsidises ‘independent’ private schools enabling the rich to obtain ‘good education’ by paying for it.[3] With this ‘good education’, rich children perform better, achieve higher and obtain greater rewards. In this way, the continuation of privilege and wealth for the elite is made possible.

Conflict theorists believe this social reproduction continues to occur because the whole education system is overlain with ideology provided by the dominant group. In effect, they perpetuate the myth that education is available to all to provide a means of achieving wealth and status. Anyone who fails to achieve this goal, according to the myth, has only themself to blame.[3] Wright agrees, stating that “the effect of the myth is to…stop them from seeing that their personal troubles are part of major social issues”.[3] The duplicity is so successful that many parents endure appalling jobs for many years, believing that this sacrifice will enable their children to have opportunities in life that they did not have themselves.[12] These people who are poor and disadvantaged are victims of a societal confidence trick. They have been encouraged to believe that a major goal of schooling is to strengthen equality while, in reality, schools reflect society’s intention to maintain the previous unequal distribution of status and power [Fitzgerald, cited in [3]].

This perspective has been criticised as deterministic, pessimistic and allowing no room for the agency of individuals to improve their situation.

People do work their way out of poverty, through over coming tremendous odds. It is however sad to think, that business men would attempt to stand in the way of the progress of the poor, and that America is more concerned withits prison population and how it rates on the stock market than trying to help youth avoid prison.

How do you teach parents to understand that failing schools and failing teachers are part of a mega Urban Planning scheme designed to keep the rich rich and the poor poor, and limited movement in the middle. Our president fights against such a system and even a congress designed to protect the interest of the biggest contributors, rather than the needs of the country. Churches need to open the doors to help the refugees from a controlled education system achieve their goals and American fundamental goals. In America we spin straw into gold, and anyone or anything getting in the way of that spinning process must be eliminated, by going over, around and through systems designed to stop social justice for all.

  1. ^ a b c Gordon Marshall (ed) A Dictionary of Sociology (Article: Sociology of Education), Oxford University Press, 1998
  2. ^ a b Schofield, K. (1999). The Purposes of Education, Queensland State Education: 2010 Accessed 2002, Oct 28.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sargent, M. (1994) The New Sociology for Australians (3rd Ed), Longman Chesire, Melbourne
  4. ^ a b Bessant, J. and Watts, R. (2002) Sociology Australia (2nd ed), Allen & Unwin, Sydney
  5. ^ NSW Board of Studies, K-6 HSIE Syllabus (NSW Australia) [1]
  6. ^ Harper, G. (1997) “Society, culture, socialisation and the individual” in Stafford, C. and Furze, B. (eds) Society and Change (2nd ed), Macmillan Education Australia, Melbourne
  7. ^ a b Meighan, R. & Siraj-Blatchford, I. (1997) A Sociology of Educating (3rd Ed), Cassell, London
  8. ^ a b c Jacob, A. (2001) Research links poverty and literacy, ABC Radio Transcript [2]
  9. ^ Foster, L. E. (1987) Australian Education: A Sociological Perspective(2nd Ed), Prentice Hall, Sydney
  10. ^ a b Furze, B. and Healy, P. (1997) “Understanding society and change” in Stafford, C. and Furze, B. (eds) Society and Change (2nd Ed), Macmillan Education Australia, Melbourne
  11. ^ a b Connell, R. W. and White, V., (1989) ‘Child poverty and educational action’ in Edgar, D., Keane, D. & McDonald, P. (eds), Child Poverty, Allen & Unwin, Sydney
  12. ^ a b c d Wilson, B. and Wyn, J. (1987) Shaping Futures: Youth Action for Livelihood, Allen & Unwin, Hong Kong
  13. ^ Sargent, M. (1994) The New Sociology for Australians (3rd Ed), Longman Chesire, Melbourne
  14. ^ a b c Harker, R., (1990) “Education and Cultural Capital” in Harker, R., Mahar, C., & Wilkes, C., (eds) (1990) An Introduction to the Work of Pierre Bourdieu: the practice of theory, Macmillan Press, London
  15. ^ Swartz, D., “Pierre Bourdieu: The Cultural Transmission of Social Inequality” in Robbins, D., (2000) Pierre Bourdieu Volume II, Sage Publications, London, pp.207-217
  16. ^ Harker, R., (1984) “On Reproduction, Habitus and Education” in Robbins, D., (2000) Pierre Bourdieu Volume II, Sage Publications, London, pp.164-176
  17. ^ Gorder, K., (1980) “Understanding School Knowledge: a critical appraisal of Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu” in Robbins, D., (2000) Pierre Bourdieu Volume II, Sage Publications, London, pp.218-233
  • Block, A.A., (1997) I’m only bleeding, Education as the Practice of Violence Against Children, Peter Lang, New York
  • Bourdieu, P., (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • Bourdieu, P., (1984) Distinction, a Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Harvard University Press, Cambridge
  • Bourdieu, P., (1986) “The Forms of Capital”
  • Bourdieu, P., (1990) Reproduction: In Education, Society and Culture, Sage Publications, London
  • Bourdieu, P., (1996) The State Nobility, Polity Press, Cambridge
  • Gabbard, D and Saltman, Ken (eds) (2003) Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schooling
  • Grenfell, M. (ed) (2008) Pierre Bourdieu: Key concepts, London, Acumen Press.
  • Harker, R., Mahar, C., & Wilkes, C., (eds) (1990) An Introduction to the Work of Pierre Bourdieu: the practice of theory, Macmillan Press, London
  • Paulo Freire, (2000) Pedagogy of the Oppressed (3rd Ed), Continuum Press, New York
  • Schofield, K. (1999) “The Purposes of Education”, in Queensland State Education: 2010 (Conference Papers)
  • Spring, J., (2000) Deculturalization and the struggle for Equality: A brief history of the education of dominant cultures in the U.S. McGraw Hill

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Categories: Sociology of education | Branches of sociology

Josh Lederman and Kathleen Hennessey, Associated Press, The Record Newspaper, October 3, 2015

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