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Critical Analysis 2.9.10

Critical Analysis 2.9.10

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Published by: estrohmi on Apr 28, 2010
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Elizabeth Strohminger Professor Jan RiemanEnglish 1101x-31February 10, 2010Critical Analysis: Jean Anyon¶s
Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work 
 Every community, whether or not the people in it like to believe it, has a social class thatdominates their life. Because schools find their home in communities across the United States, itmakes sense that if a community is of a certain social class, then the schools within saidcommunity would be the same social class. In Jean Anyon¶s essay,
Social Class and the HiddenCurriculum of Work 
, she attempts to explore the relationship between these communities and thetype of education received. Her research was guided by the question: ³What potentialrelationships to the system of ownership of symbolic and physical capital, to authority andcontrol, and their own productive activity are being developed in children in each school?´ (246).In her research, Anyon evaluates schools in distinctly different social classes; these are what shenames ³working class´ schools, ³middle class´ schools, ³affluent professional´ schools, and³executive elite´ schools in increasing order of communal income. By evaluating each schooltype, Anyon came to the conclusion that ³there is a µhidden curriculum¶ in school work that has profound implication for the theory ±and consequence- of everyday activity in education,´ (226).Based on Anyon¶s definitions of each social class, I would place myself in either the³affluent professional´ or the ³executive elite´ school. Anyon suggests that in the ³affluent professional´ schools, students are taught to develop ³a potential relationship to capital that isinstrumental and expressive and involves substantial negotiation,´ (248). These students aretaught to develop expressive skills that can be turned into concrete form. In other words, theywill become the successful artisans and intellectuals. Because man¶s need to be creative is
stimulated at this influential age, the children growing up in this social class are more concernedwith what Anyon coins ³symbolic capital.´ She claims, ³The producers of symbolic capital oftendo not control the socially available physical capital nor the cultural uses to which it is put,´(248). In other words, they may not be the influential center in society based in physical capital, but this is not such a high need because they can express themselves creatively.My other option would be an ³executive elite´ school. Anyon defines this school as onethat gives ³knowledge of and practice in manipulating the socially legitimated tools of analysisof systems,´ (248). Because they are trained to analyze and plan, they are prepared to work insociety demanding these skills, and will become those who control and own physical capital.Pulling from my own experiences, opportunities such as these are not solely given to thosechildren who live in affluent communities. There are several developing programs that have thesole purpose of stimulating the analytical mind. The school that I attended was the border of avery affluent neighborhood and a very poor neighborhood, meaning that students from allaspects of life went to the same school without being bused into the area. Because of this, thesame opportunities were offered to everyone. However, Anyon¶s initial observations held true inthis school- those students who came from working class communities took those classes thatseemed to only develop skills ³for future wage labor that is mechanical and routine´ and thosethat came from affluent communities took classes to develop skills of ³creative elaboration of ideas into concrete form´ (247)(248). So this must imply that there are other factors that areinvolved in why people maintain their status quo.It is easy to blame the community and schools on why children don¶t grow up to be better than their parents, and Anyon makes an excellent case. However, the answer may be closer tohome. Behavior is not learned in a vacuum; children who grow up living in a certain community
will learn the mannerisms associated with it during initial development. These mannerisms arethen taken with them through their schooling and either developed further or squashed by thetype of people by whom they are surrounded. The same is true in the reverse. Anyon touches onthis when discussing her empirical formula. She writes anecdotes that express how teachers whoshow their students little to no respect will in turn receive little to no respect from their students(235). But she then seems to neglect how this language affects the students elsewhere. Althoughthis was not in her case study, it would make sense that she would at least acknowledge how the behavior shown to students in school was reflected in smaller settings- either at home or amongst peer groups.It is also rash of Anyon to make the large leap from elementary school behavior to howthe student will act in professional society. She even remarks on this: ³It is of course true that astudent¶s future relationship to the process of production in society is determined by thecombined effects of circumstances beyond elementary schooling,´ (247). But then she continueson to say that there is an obvious relationship about what is known of social classes and theenvironment of the schools in associated communities (247). Like mentioned before, there areother environments where children will pick up mannerisms and habits. To assume that there is acausal relationship between elementary schooling and the much later years in the child¶s life may be too big of a jump; there are many other factors that can develop a child¶s future.Jean Anyon¶s essay has opened the eyes of many scholars on the way school systemswork. Because of her and others in her feel, the government of the United States now has aclearer hypothesis of why children get stuck in a cyclical social class. The steps taken to improvethis, however, may not be the wisest option. In the years to come, hopefully someone will find asolution to this education problem and be able to pull students from their status quo.

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