Anger Management, Anyone?

Compared to the US, Britain is generally regarded as having more rigid, tightly enforced, and widely understood social class barriers. With its well-known scene of blindfolded children moving on a conveyor belt toward becoming ingredients in a social sausage, the movie The Wall (and music: Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)) asserts the salience of class for British education. It does so via the refrain (presumably addressed to all teachers, not just the sarcastic one depicted in the video): “All in all, you’re just another brick in the Wall.” The film highlights how people  experience class during ordinary interactions in school and  thus offers a sharp reminder of the relationship between class and anger in education.

I once invited a group of aspiring American teachers to (re-)view and comment on the significance of the “The Wall” in relation to their own potential careers. While these largely middle-class undergraduates understood the anger expressed in the video and found it amusing, they didn’t see its relevance to their experience as students and the experiences they anticipated they might have as teachers. Why did my largely middle-class students respond to the video differently than I had anticipated?

In their 1986 study of anger (and anger management) in American history, social historian Peter Stearns and psychiatrist Carol Stearns assert that changes over time in the aims and methods of emotional control “help explain class relations in American society, particularly in the twentieth century.” After World War II, they say, the job of guidance counselors emerged in schools. The task was to reduce the number of “adjustment problems,” including angry students. By the 1950s, survey responses suggested that teenagers were intolerant of expressions of anger by peers, preferring instead a “cool” stance. Beginning in the 1960s, another aspect of anger in school was partially managed in a different way: as grade averages trended upward, angry student-teacher confrontations became less likely.

Despite the muted expression of anger, the classroom remains what social psychologist Bernard Weiner calls a microcosm of the social universe, a courtroom where we render and receive moral judgment.  When people feel negatively judged, anger is a likely response and students/faculty of working-class origin are likely targets of negative moral judgment. As British sociologist Andrew Sayer puts it in The Moral Significance of Class, “the working classes are both imagined or expected to be able to compete on equal terms with others and [at the same time] expected to fail.”

How can these two expectations go together? It is widely believed that the US is a meritocratic society: where we end up, most people think, is based (mostly) on individual merit. In other words, we get what we deserve. If so, how do we account for “failure”? The availability of a free public education means that educational (and occupational) achievement must be attributed to personal characteristics. In other words, we deserve what we get.

There is, however, abundant evidence that education in the US is less meritocratic than widely believed. After all, the teaching staff and management of educational institutions are largely informed by the perspectives of the (not always egalitarian) middle class.  Given that, what might a working-class person experience upon entering (or competing for entry to) a cathedral of learning? Class contempt.

Class contempt, according to Sayer, consists of negative judgments often based on taste and style that “[spill over] into judgments of moral worth.” Social class is “given off” by cues of accent, language, demeanor, possessions, and lifestyle and differences indicated via these cues can trigger the expression of class contempt (in either direction). Perhaps it was for this reason that Pierre Bourdieu described the belief that we can escape our social origins (by merit or other means) as a “dream of social flying, a desperate effort to defy the gravity of the social field.”

Even at its mildest, Sayer suggests, class contempt can significantly constrain the life chances of those who experience it. Expressions of class contempt (sometimes even by those who study the working class) need not be deliberate, and those who are the targets of it need not even be aware that contempt is being expressed.

The link between class contempt and anger is not necessarily direct: anger, as an effect of class contempt, can be mediated by shame. Shame, according to Sayer, “is commonly a response to the real or imagined contempt, derision or avoidance of real or imagined others, particularly those whose values are respected.” Consider the following example.

A working-class student in the last year of middle-school had very high achievement scores and difficulty behaving “appropriately” in classes. The student had independently read about the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations and asked a favorite teacher (who knows the student extremely well and teaches History) for the recommendation required to enroll in an advanced course in Ancient History the following year. The teacher replies he cannot write a recommendation because the student may misbehave, thus reflecting poorly on the teacher. The teacher later confides to a colleague that he did not want the student to experience disappointment. During the remainder of the middle-school year, the student experienced shame; the following year, the student experienced anger, declaring “they care more about my behavior than whether I can think.” Angry in part over the denial of that dream of scholastic upward mobility, the student left school at age sixteen. Does this story depict class contempt or simply the negative evaluation of a student who happened to be of working-class origin? This complex question is difficult to answer. We can see class contempt more easily in an evaluation task completed in the late 90s by another group of aspiring teachers. I gave the students a list of ten hypothetical candidates for selection into a hypothetical high school advanced placement (AP) course that only had two openings. I asked them to rank order the candidates. The candidates varied by last name, gender, grade point average, test scores, number of days absent or truant, and parent occupation. The results were more or less as I expected:  the candidate with the highest test scores, a number of truancies, and a parent employed as a non-professional was ranked the lowest, while the candidates with Anglo-Saxon sounding names and professionally employed parents were ranked the highest.

When I pointed out that the most able candidate (based on test scores) was being denied access, several students argued rather vociferously that the candidate had misbehaved and thus did not deserve the opportunity. When I pointed out that many students in my class may have benefitted from a similar ranking process in high school (many having been enrolled in programs for “the gifted”), several replied that they had deserved to be highly ranked, either because of individual merit or (when evidence of this might have been equivocal) by virtue of having “come from a good family.” These results, and – especially – the student justifications, suggest the operation of class contempt. The possibility that some of my former students are probably ranking actual candidates even now suggests the relevance of the ranking exercise and its outcomes to the contemporary educational scene.

Anger sparked by expressions of class contempt can lead to interpersonal struggle or social transformation. “The Wall” makes the expression of sarcasm by a teacher visible as an expression of class contempt. Only by seeing ordinary interactions in social as well psychological terms can we move from shame to an anger that may help ensure that the American Dream is achieved more on the basis of merit and less on basis of class, race, sex, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, or politics.

Roy Wilson

Roy Wilson has published in the areas of sociology, computing, and education and has worked in industry and academia in the roles of employee, consultant, teacher, and researcher.

This entry was posted in Class and Education, Contributors, Guest Bloggers, Issues, Understanding Class and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Anger Management, Anyone?

  1. Pingback: Our Preconceived Opinions Inform Our Educational Goals | Rebel Homeschool

  2. Roy Wilson says:

    I’m trying to reply to George F. Haley.

    Yes, I see “there you go again”🙂. More about this issue at the end of the post.

    I don’t think public school educators engage that question so much as beg it.

    Like

  3. Patrick Finn says:

    1. This is a very poorly designed website. I rarely know who is replying to whom or how to direct my comment to the original author or to another commenter. 2. A master’s in education might mean something and it might not. It took me by surprise when I first taught methods of teaching reading and writing that many of my students did not have a clue. I had been doing it for so many years that I had forgotten that I had learned how to do it in a state run teachers college (Chicago Teachers College) 15 years earlier, and I was better at it with experience. And so if you’re taking about how to teach, teachers do generally know more than parents. Sadly, teachers programs seem to be based on the premise that teaching is an apolitical activity. Simple minded behavioristic approaches go unchallenged in teachers colleges with largely working working class students (like Chicago Teachers College), and these approaches are nearly universal in working class schools. Progressive approaches are insisted upon by more affluent parents and get more attention in teacher preparation programs with largely middle class students. There are all kinds of issues of politics and justice wrapped up in these matters that most teachers are oblivious to. A politically savvy parent may know more about the politics of teaching and schooling than many teachers and ought not back down. I’ve written a lot on this subject and would like to qualify nearly every statement I’ve made here, but I hope I’ve made my point.

    Like

  4. me says:

    I am a working class stay at home mom. I have a 6 year old son who has adhd and I myself grew up having undiagnosed adhd. I went to a catholic school filled with mostly middle and working class children, I was intelligent but my behaviors and poor hand writting held me back. I was held back in K for immature behavior even though intellectually I was fine. I became angry at school by 3rd grade and I basically gave up academically by junior high and just remained an average student. The only teacher in elementary school to make me feel smart was a nun who came from Croatia, none of the middle class lay women or men got me, but this nun did for some reason. She really helped me not hate myself.
    I don’t have a college degree but have some college, when my son started K, the teachers and administrators talked down to me like I was a child and everytime I’d say anything, it was we know better because we have a masters degree. I pulled him out and had him place in a program for kids with learning and behavioral needs paid for by the school district. He just started 1st grade and is doing very well. It’s kind of funny because the kids in this school come from all the districts, so they can from poor urban neighborhoods and from rich affluent neighborhoods. The teachers don’t treat the kids differently based on socio economic factors or behaviors, they just are focused on helping the students. He is doing so well and his behaviors have come a long way.
    You should do a piece on learning disabilities, adhd, and autism and working class families. I am lucky to have amazing health insurance but I know some people who are really struggling because they can’t afford specialist.

    Like

    • Roy Wilson says:

      You say: “everytime I’d say anything, it was we know better because we have a masters degree”. If having a higher degree means that one has more school knowledge, it is easy and tempting to forget that the world is not (and perhaps should not be) totally organized according to the principles learned in school. Public school educators working in working-class settings face a (moral?) dilemma: whether to teach what the parents want taught versus what they think should be taught.

      Like

      • Barb Weaver says:

        Roy,

        Still, teachers (and all skilled professionals) are in a better position to turn the tide than are the unskilled or under educated.
        If children must learn mostly what their parents want them to learn, why don’t egalitarian educators/professionals then focus on the working class/poverty class adults who want academic training, tutoring and mentoring?

        Like

      • George F. Haley says:

        See, here I am disagreeing again:

        “Public school educators working in working-class settings face a (moral?) dilemma: whether to teach what the parents want taught versus what they think should be taught.”

        I don’t think public school educators engage that question so much as beg it. I guess that ethical quandry exists, but more or less essential to the idea of public schooling itself is a certain privileging of citizen, who has duties to “society,” over “consumer,” or, I like the word “customer” better, as it implies mutually beneficial exchange, etc, Citizens, in the aggregate, express their preferences through the democratic process, or some republican (and note, neither of those words was capitalized) version thereof, (to say nothing of a few iterations of the principal-agent problem as The People’s choices are effected by various apparatchiks, and then there’s regulatory capture, but no matter)

        (We won’t even go into Ken Arrow’s work.)

        (Plus, given your vote doesn’t matter, and even if it did it’s not like you’d have to pay for any given policy chosen primarily out of your own pocket, people tend to not even vote their own interests: (Caplan, 2000))

        Thus, as what comes out the other end of the sausage factory is valorized as representing “The Will of the People,” or “Society’s Mandate” somehow separate and apart and above the individuals “society” comprises, public schools tend to have fairly rigid curriculum, the workers are required to submit detailed lesson plans which are then approved by the administration, and what any individual’s parents may actually want don’t much enter into it. I mean, who do they think they are, customers? They want to pay their money and take their choice? Next they’ll want candy for dinner and Christmas twice a year. They’ll get nothing and like it!

        Thus, the real dilemma is not between parents and teachers, it’s between the official curriculum and teachers, and even there…I don’t quite know how any sort of self-directed, anarchistic skeptical type could make it through the education and certification process most states require of their teachers, which seem designed to separate your Huck Finns and Yossarians, your R. P McMurphys and John Galts from those of a more Vogonish bent when it comes to the habit of mental flexibility.

        Like

      • Roy Wilson says:

        I’m trying to reply to George F. Haley.

        Yes, “there you go again”🙂. More about this at the end of the post.

        You say: “I don’t think public school educators engage that question so much as beg it.” You may be, and probably are, right. I should have been more specific. There is evidence that WC parents often resist having there children taught (perhaps different) material using (perhaps different methods). The idea is that teachers sometimes attempt to teach to a possible future of the student while the parents want them to teach to the present or perhaps more likely future.

        I agree with your comment re: curriculum. Perhaps you have Texas is mind. Michael Apple, despite being a “progressive” talks about how the politics and business of textbooks is generating a form of “official knowledge”. Are you opposed to official knowledge in general or when it is of a particular persuasion?

        I’m glad you disagree, but I wonder why you didn’t address my earloier question about the sufficiency (in to the necessity) of hard work, etc., in “determining” the educational outcomes of the poor and working classes?

        Out of order: (Damn interface.) Care to say more about the intransitivity of social choice as it applies to your post? BTW, lots of folks, even (non-Marxist) economists question the straightforward applicability of Arrow’s Choice theorem to social life.

        Like

  5. Barb Weaver says:

    Thanks Roy!

    Until those born to privilege (offspring of professors, politicians, doctors, business executives, etc) start devoting their lives to leveling the socioeconomic playing field by providing alternatives and/or opportunities through education (especially early childhood) and applicable, individualized job training, the working and poverty classes will continue to be exploited and neglected thereby forced to express their anger ‘inappropriately’ and…work and shop at Wal-Mart.:/

    Did George W. really graduate from Yale & Harvard??? #!&*%%!!!&#%%#@!!!!!

    Like

    • Roy Wilson says:

      Barb,
      Thanks for the thanks.🙂

      I don’t disagree about the importance of the solutions you mention, but I also think it’s important to understand the more subtle interpersonal mechanisms by which class barriers are maintained.

      It is conceivable that egalitarian members of the middle class might be able to recognize such mechanisms at work in their own interactions. Such concrete, rather than merely abstract, recognition might bring them to acknowledge the existence and impact of class contempt and to act against it.

      Like

    • George F. Haley says:

      Alas, Barb, the only things that can really provide “alternatives and/or opportunities” are thrift, industry, and a little moxie. The progressive solutions to the problem of poverty seem to have just the opposite effect, creating a culture of entitlement, dependency, and general helplessness.

      Like

      • Roy Wilson says:

        Mr. Haley,

        I agree that thrift, industry, and a little moxie may be necessary for the poor to cease being so, but do you believe they are sufficient?

        Like

      • Barb Weaver says:

        On the contrary, I think successful schooling and job training programs would lead to less dependency, entitlement and helplessness. For example, not everyone has the aptitude for keyboarding or word processing…yet that’s all the local job center (“CareerLink”) has to offer in the way of ‘training.’
        Creative working class people rarely if ever get to develop their artistic skills. (And one shouldn’t have to be an exceptional talent to make a living wage.)
        Before thrift, industry and moxie, there’s got to be hope.

        Like

    • Patrick Finn says:

      Those born to privilege are not very good at leveling the playing field. As we saw in the 1890-1940s those not born to privilege organized and took what they had coming to them through unions. It’s going to take a little more beating up by the monied class before our workers decide they’ve had enough. Then we’ll have our Arab Spring. Wisconsin’s giving us a taste of it right now.

      Like

      • Roy Wilson says:

        Mr. Finn,

        Is your latest comment a reply to Barb’s latest or my last post? I think it’s directed to mine, so I’ll respond.

        I agree that changes in policy can affect behavior, but as we know from the examples of modern racism/sexism/classicism/etc., such changes often leave the underlying attitudes relatively untouched. If this is the case, and there is “scientific” evidence that it is, it is also important to focus on class contempt in the allocation of educational and occupational opportunity.

        Like

      • Barb Weaver says:

        And how do we get the working class to stop beating up each other?
        Leadership? Where is it in Pennsylvania?

        Like

    • George F. Haley says:

      You know, I’m pretty sure businesses already do provide individualized job training. You might also consider the role the working class itself plays in excluding the poverty class from learning certain skills or otherwise gaining valuable work experience they might use to better themselves; you know, and by so doing threaten the wages of, say, teamsters.

      Do you think minimum wage laws, for instance, price some people out of the most basic sort of job? You know, the kind that pay minimum wage? You sure can’t make any more paying six fifty for five dollars worth of labor. What about the extensive licensing of careers where, frankly, a merchant’s reputation for quality and value would be more than sufficient to efficiently regulate a market? Do you need a license to arrange flowers? To paint nails? To cut and style hair?

      Here’s a pretty good column about that from The Economist:

      “In the 1950s, when organisation man ruled, fewer than 5% of American workers needed licences. Today, after three decades of deregulation, the figure is almost 30%. Add to that people who are preparing to obtain a licence or whose jobs involve some form of certification and the share is 38%. Other rich countries impose far fewer fetters than the land of the free. In Britain only 13% of workers need licences (though that has doubled in 12 years).

      Some occupations clearly need to be licensed. Nobody wants to unleash amateur doctors and dentists on the public, or untrained tattoo artists for that matter. But, as the Wall Street Journal has doggedly pointed out, America’s Licence Raj has extended its tentacles into occupations that pose no plausible threat to health or safety—occupations, moreover, that are governed by considerations of taste rather than anything that can be objectively measured by licensing authorities. The list of jobs that require licences in some states already sounds like something from Monty Python—florists, handymen, wrestlers, tour guides, frozen-dessert sellers, firework operatives, second-hand booksellers and, of course, interior designers—but it will become sillier still if ambitious cat-groomers and dog-walkers get their way. ”
      http://www.economist.com/node/18678963

      Like

  6. Patrick Finn says:

    George Haley, my friend. I taught in Chicago for 6 years in high poverty schools. I sympathize with your frustration while teaching in a working-class school.

    We have a very long way to go, however, to a classless society. A student with SATs in the top quartile but whose family income is in the bottom quartile has an equal chance to attend a 4 year college as a student whose SAT scores are in the bottom quartile but whose family income is in the top quartile.

    And about really smart but disruptive–Elite boarding school staff generally understand that adolescents are struggling to find a set of values, and that breaking rules can be a way of finding standards of conduct by experimenting. As a result students are not always held fully accountable for their behavior. In fact, when done with wit and style, breaking rules can become a mark of distinction (Cookson & Persell, 1985, p.138).

    Only a person who has never been there can blame you for being angry when some smart-alec kid is throwing your English class video project, for example, up for grabs. But that does not mean there are not structural arrangements in American society that militate against your working-class students’ life chances. And understanding this might help us be more strategic in figuring out how to make your English class more productive.

    Like

    • George F. Haley says:

      I disagree, Patrick. I’m not at all convinced there is such a thing as “class,” not how you mean it, anyway, and if there is, well, it would seem overcoming it is mainly an issue of buying a few Ralph Lauren shirts, which they sell at nearly any mall, and learning to speak English the way they teach you in school.

      I would also note innumerable people manage to lead happy, fulfilled, and even successful and prosperous lives despite never quite overcoming their socio-economic status.

      Like

  7. Patrick Finn says:

    The exclusivity of elite boarding schools flies in the face of the dearly held American belief that our school system is a meritocracy, meaning that students who are smart and work hard in school earn places in high-status school programs, enter high-status, high-paying professions, and end up with more money and status than the average citizen regardless of the socio-economic status of their parents.3 As a result, particularly in the past quarter century, elite boarding schools have made an effort to increase the social-class diversity of their student bodies (O’Neill, 2006; Powell, 1996). Nevertheless, more than two-thirds of the students pay the full tuition of over $40,000 per year, and very few students receive full tuition remission (NAIS, 2006, 2008). Furthermore, aid often goes to high-status families that need financial assistance and children of faculty and other private school teachers (Cookson & Persell, 2010), and so the student bodies of these schools remain very exclusive (Stevens, 2007). Still, a number of “border-crossers” are admitted. These are less-privileged but academically talented students who are willing to adopt the values, attitudes, and interests of the typical elite boarding school student and more or less abandon those of their home communities. These efforts at diversity enable these schools and their students to retain their belief in meritocracy and that competition for wealth and status through education is democratic, fair, and just.

    Like

  8. George F. Haley says:

    “A working-class student in the last year of middle-school had very high achievement scores and difficulty behaving “appropriately” in classes. ”

    What do the sneer quotes mean, here? Is there some specific example of said behavior?

    “The student had independently read about the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations”

    Quite commendable, but I am not at all sure behavior that would not be tolerated in a doctor or lawyer’s kid becomes excusable from the son or daughter of a plumber, or cashier, or someone tasked with loading a conveyor belt or something.

    “The teacher replies he cannot write a recommendation because the student may misbehave, thus reflecting poorly on the teacher. The teacher later confides to a colleague that he did not want the student to experience disappointment.”

    Does said student have behavioral issues or not? I speak here from experience, and a privileged background, at least by Youngstown standards, you’d have to be pretty damn brilliant indeed to offset being insubordinate or otherwise disruptive, or lazy, etc.

    ” During the remainder of the middle-school year, the student experienced shame; the following year, the student experienced anger, declaring “they care more about my behavior than whether I can think.”

    DId it occur to the youngster he might want to, you know, see if he could behave a little more “appropriately?”

    ” Does this story depict class contempt or simply the negative evaluation of a student who happened to be of working-class origin?”

    Is that a false dilemma? Here in Youngstown you’ll likely run across members of what you’d call the petite bourgeoisie, if you were still hung up on that tedious Marxy class struggle thing and thus of a mind to stick people into convenient little boxes marked “prole” or whatever like that, who’d look perfectly at home down at some working man’s local, talking to a machine operator or some other fellow of no particular profession at all, about how they seen somethin’ th’ other day, but it don’t matter now.

    “This complex question is difficult to answer. We can see class contempt more easily in an evaluation task completed in the late 90s by another group of aspiring teachers.”

    Believing is seeing…

    “I gave the students a list of ten hypothetical candidates for selection into a hypothetical high school advanced placement (AP) course that only had two openings. I asked them to rank order the candidates. The candidates varied by last name, gender, grade point average, test scores, number of days absent or truant, and parent occupation. The results were more or less as I expected: the candidate with the highest test scores, a number of truancies, and a parent employed as a non-professional was ranked the lowest, while the candidates with Anglo-Saxon sounding names and professionally employed parents were ranked the highest.”

    When you say “a number…” how big a number? Why give a scarce seat to a kid who’s not going to bother showing up when all he needs is a dollar fifty to pay his late hcharges at the public library. I would also note, in the real world, and even in academia, to at least some extent, brilliant only gets you so far without a commensurate sense of responsibility, respect for the instutition, etc.

    I wonder, then, who would get farther, and, well, capitalize on the opportunities afforded them by the various institutions and generally thrive in a structured enviroment. I suppose I wonder if there really is such a thing as class, if joining another one is mainly an issue of buying something they sell at the mall and avoiding the word “ain’t” and otherwise growing your human capital. Can the poor not handle money because they’re the poor? Or are the poor the poor because they can’t handle money? Can the working class not learn because the pprofessionals jealously guard their secrets? Or is it because its hard to get into med school if you don’t graduate from college, and its hard to graduate from college if you don’t hand in your homework and ditch class to play space invaders and get each other pregnant?

    Like

    • Roy Wilson says:

      Mr. Haley, thank you for the vigorous response. Very thought provoking. I need time to process the points you made. I can say now that I especially appreciate your reaction against the “tedious Marxy class struggle thing.” More later.

      Like

    • Jeffrey Z Rothstein says:

      George, you make some interesting and provacative comments here, particularly about class. I think that this speaks to a general disagreement, or maybe confusion about what that term means, particularly in the United States.
      It seeems as if you locate class in the lifestyle (perhaps, aesthetic) sphere, rather–or more than–the economic sense. In the latter, the term, which is often, as you bluntly pointed out, used a label, which tends to pigeonhole and caricature people as ‘types’–something which, in western society has its roots in those very post-cartesian systems of naming first used by people like Linnaeus, and then turned into templates for compartmentalizing and ‘identifying’ every facet of the modern experience–simply denotes one’s relative position on the slippery, dirty and unequal economic totem pole. This, is of course, dependent on what one uses as criterion; and, in this country for example, one finds “poor” people who may have a computer and car, but who often have trouble putting food on the table. This may, at first, seem like a failure to prioritize, but a closer look reveals both that it reflects the values of the larger society–where consumerist acquisition is often the priority, at least to some degree–and the necessity of certain modes of transportation in a largely transient, spread out, and high tech cultural landscape. In India, for exmple, or in Nigeria, “lower class”, or todays preferred, “working class” has a completely different meaning, in part because these categories signify a diffent relationship to the larger culture, and in part because, having little, or no money, manifests itself differently in different parts of the world. In saying tjhis I do not mean to imply that one isnt as likely to starve if denied food in america as much as anywhere else, only that the categories themselves are heuristics, which hypothesize, and locate a position on a spectrum relative to certain criterion; and, that those criterion can exclude, and constrain to the point of caricature.
      I do not think this entirely explains the point, but i hope it lends some clarity.

      Like

  9. Patrick Finn says:

    I can’t figure out this website. Is thei “care to share?” addressed to me?

    Like

  10. Roy Wilson says:

    Good point, Mr. Butler. I guess I was assuming a largely middle-class readership. Perhaps for them/us, it is widely believed. My former students certainly believed that they had justly benefitted from what they took to be a meritocratic society.

    Like

  11. Patrick Finn says:

    The exclusivity of elite boarding schools flies in the face of the dearly held American belief that our school system is a meritocracy, meaning that students who are smart and work hard in school earn places in high-status school programs, enter high-status, high-paying professions, and end up with more money and status than the average citizen regardless of the socio-economic status of their parents. The corollary, that students who are not smart or do not work hard are assigned to low-status school programs, and enter low-status, low-paying occupations, regardless of the socio-economic status of their parents is so patently untrue that it is rarely stated. (from a forthcoming paper in Theory into Practice
    Patrick J. Finn, author of Literacy with an Attitude

    Like

    • Roy Wilson says:

      Indeed, but wouldn’t a diehard reply that the elite private schools generally reserve a few slots for the deserving? (I am not a diehard, just a would-be gadfly).

      Like

  12. “It is widely believed that the US is a meritocratic society:”

    Widely believed by whom?

    In my experience down in the blue collar lower classes, it’s “widely believed” that we live in a society based on patronage, where “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – I suspect that the bulk of the people who actually believe we live in a so called “meritocracy” are the folks who benefit from various forms of privilege (including the privilege you get from having parents well off enough to send you to an elite college)

    GREGORY A. BUTLER

    Like

  13. USW Blogger says:

    Very thought-provoking piece.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s