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Hannah Koch Jan Rieman English 1101X 12 February 2010 Social Class and Education After reading “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work” by Jean Anyon, I began to try and make some sense out of what I had read by applying it to myself. I believe that I attended a Middle-Class School, rather than a Working-Class, Affluent Professional, or an Executive Elite School. I feel this way because even though my schools weren’t the richest schools in town like an Affluent Professional, or Executive Elite School, they also weren’t quite the poorest or least funded schools in my town like a Working-Class School. My schools had almost no minorities, and there were many different social classes that were apparent. I was taught to find the right answer, and was somewhat coached to do so. I was brought up through my schools thinking about the future and like some of the students from the Middle-class school that was studied says, “… there are thought to be other likely rewards: a good job, or college.” I feel as if I want to be successful, then I have to go to college. That idea made me do my best in high school, but in elementary school it wasn’t an issue. I wasn’t even thinking about college in elementary school, and I don’t think my elementary schools’ curriculum was specifically designed to make me successful in college either. (238) We weren’t always required to be creative, but it also wasn’t frowned upon or wrong when brought into the classroom like in the working-class schools. We learned mostly out of the textbook, and had to be careful about the topics and discussions that came up in class, because the threat of parents complaining.
I also feel as if the way your social class standing affects your education, it also affects many other things like where you live, where you work, and then your children’s education and so-forth. Knowing this, I myself am trying to better myself by getting a better education than my parents received so that I can better myself and my children. After making the comparisons about what school I feel that I was brought up in, I can’t help but wonder how different I would be if I were to be brought up through an Affluent Professional School, or an Executive Elite School, or even a Working-Class School. The teaching methods in the different schools are so varied, that if I had gone to a different school so many things would be different, for example my work ethic. In the Working-Class Schools, the teacher just teaches, whether the kids understand it or not. As Anyon says, “When the teacher went over the examples with them, he told them for each problem what the procedure was, rarely asking them to conceptualize or explain it themselves.” (232). The teacher isn’t concerned with whether the children understand what they’re doing, just as long as they are doing it. I myself have to have a teacher that will help me understand things, and help me with them if I do not. Anyon also mentions that “The products of work in this class are often written stories, editorials and essays, or representations of ideas in mural, graph, or craft form. The products of work should not be like everybody else’s and should show individuality.” (238). This quote is describing the work that is required of the fifth grade students that attend the Affluent Professional Schools. I personally could not imagine doing editorials and essays in my fifth grade class. The teaching styles in the Affluent Professional Schools are much stricter, and much less structured than I would be used to. But maybe if I had been brought up in an Affluent Professional School, that kind of work would have been normal to me, and easy to complete. I feel as if I would have gone to an Affluent Professional School or an Executive Elite school, I would not have to struggle in college as much
as I do, or I would have a better work ethic. I would know how to handle a heavy work load and how to study much more effectively. The “hidden curriculum” has indeed proven itself apparent in these five New Jersey Schools, and I honestly don’t think that it’s fair that just because you were born into a differing social class that you have to receive poorer education than others who were born into a higher social class. But I also know that this will never change and it’s up to you to decide how you want to embrace and use your education. Regardless of what kind of elementary, middle, or high school class I was brought up in, I have learned to value my education because it is the key to my future. In today’s society, all of the highest paying jobs require a college degree of some sort. I don’t believe that it is fair to the children who are brought up going to Working-Class Schools, because it creates a sort of never ending cycle. The children who attend these schools are born into poverty or very low income families, attend very low funded schools and receive a less-than average education. Then they get a less-than average paying job, and remain in the WorkingClass for the rest of their lives, and thus their children are brought up in the same social class and schools as their parents. If they don’t see anybody else valuing their education, how are they going to learn to value their own? It’s not the fault of the children who have to attend these poorly funded schools. I also don’t feel as if you should receive an education that’s better than anybody else’s just because of the amount of money that your parents have either. I believe that everyone should receive the same education. The more fortunate kids are going to the more fortunate schools, receiving a better education, getting better jobs, then sending their own children to the better funded schools. I feel as if the social class that you are born into almost always becomes the social class that you remain in for the rest of your life. As I said earlier, I feel as if it is creating a never ending cycle.
Anyon’s essay on the hidden curriculum within the different social classes has definitely opened my eyes to the different social classes and how they greatly affect almost every aspect of your life. As I said previously, I don’t believe that it is fair, but that is just how life works. It is up to you to make changes in your life to try and break the cycle.
Works Cited Anyon, Jean. "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work." Writing Conventions. Eds. Lu and Horner. New York: Pearson, 2008. 225-51. Print.
Self Assessment As I wrote this critical interpretation, I based it off of my critical inquiry. I made it less of a summary of the essay, and more of my interpretation, and how I feel about this essay. I added quotes, and a lot of my opinion. I feel as if the format of my paper still needs work, though. I’m not quite sure if I’ve included everything that a critical interpretation should include. Other than that, I feel as if I’ve done a fairly decent job on this assignment.
Hannah, Thanks for including your self-assessment. I’m glad that you were able to use your inquiry paper to get to your interpretation. You wonder if you are doing enough here to fit the goals of an interpretation, and that’s a fair question. What I’d suggest you work on in revision is taking each of your ideas and 1) showing how they relate to one another and 2) extending them even farther than you do here. Start by making clear what your overriding point of your paper is and then build on that idea. Is it that no matter what type of education you get, you are responsible for your own success? Is it that this situation is never going to change? Is it that you would have
been different had you been at a different type of school? Think how these ideas relate to one another and how they build up to your main idea. Once you have revised, pay attention to your comma usage, quote incorporation /MLA format.
Dr. Rieman, I feel like the points that I’m trying to make through my paper are all four of those points. I’m not quite sure if any of them are my overriding. Should I include all of them or narrow it down to just one strong point and elaborate on it? Thanks for your comments and help.
Dear Hannah, It seems like you capture the essence of your paper’s focus in your response to my inro para question: “I would like to convey that my main idea is about how the different social
classes affect your education, which ultimately affect so many other things.” State this explicitly in your intro and then build your paper around this point. And you’ll have to decide how this stance related to your idea that we’re all responsible for our own learning and success. How do those two ideas co-exist (and they can). Thanks for your talk back!
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