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Reading Response: Education

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Reading Response: Education

“Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work”

In the study “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work,” Jean Anyon expands on the significant difference among the schools of varying socio-economic classes. After a one-year long observation of five schools in different areas of New Jersey, Anyon’s report reveals the primary differences in approaches and philosophies behind teaching methods. Thus, the working class school focused on making students follow instructions, blindly cram the material and remain obedient, whereas the executive-type school encouraged critical thinking, decision-making and independence.

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With her report, Anyon brings attention to the huge gap in the sphere of education and the fact that it cannot be solved by proper financing only. It reminds a vicious circle when frustrated teachers with an average education teach students in the same average way not motivating them to think independently or develop beyond the curriculum. Meanwhile, teachers from a better socio-economic background are able to find jobs in more prestigious educational institutions. Anyon does not insist that this situation is true in each and every school in the US, but the general pattern seems to reflect this tendency. Furthermore, more affluent schools have more parents involved in their activities, which is also an indication of stable financial wellbeing. Working class parents often juggle several jobs and have no time or desire to help their children study.

It is evident that the division among social classes is convenient for those at the top. Because of the capitalistic model, a stratum of obedient people is needed to do monotonous jobs and, basically, only a handful of top managers are required to control and rule the economy. Therefore, within the framework of the capitalistic society, this division into social classes is logical and expedient. However, an equal society can be achieved in the times of rapid technological development when all monotonous jobs will be mechanized. In such a way, the society of intelligent and ritically thinking people would be able to participate in the activities of the state and its institutions.

“Education”

In “Education”, E. B. White discusses the differences between the country school and the city school. The author does not assert that one school is necessarily better than the other, but clearly lists some distinctions. Children are more relaxed and their activities are more casual in the country school. There are fewer students and only several teachers, and at the same tome teachers are not able to pay much attention to each individual student. However, such environment creates more stimulation to children’s minds and produces more reliance on their own strength and judgment. In contrast, the author’s son received a more “formal education” in the city school. A child’s life in the city school is more supervised and controlled. Such studies are perceived as a chore from which a student should be “revived on orange juice in mid-morning”. In such ironic manner, the author implies that it is rather beneficial for children to be left to their own devices so that they could develop in their own ways and at their own pace.

Personally, I would prefer the country school environment. I like that it is saturated with common sense and the teachers are not extremely stressed out. I am aware that often city teachers react to the anxiety of the parents who are afraid that their children will be less educated, less competent, or perform poorly in comparison with their peers. Therefore, the city school reminds about competition both to parents and children. In this regard, the country school seems more relaxed and down to earth. The curriculum can be the same, but the approach is radically different. Given the time when the article had been written, the situation changed  Now both the country and the city schools are very similar.

“What They Learn in School”

In “What They Learn in School”, Jerome Stern makes fun of absurditties and contradictions that happen in schools. Often schools demand contradicting things when they want their students to know everything about drugs and the consequences or their intake in order to prevent them from doing drugs. However, at the same time, schools avoid educating children about sex, also to prevent them from early sexual contacts. In an ironic and satirical manner, Stern refers to many issues raised or concealed by schools, for example, learning science or history, reading books, discussing current events, listening to music, and others. However, at the basis of Stern’s argument one can see the differences in approaches of the schools of different socio-economic strata. These distinctions are not openly professed by schools, but they are still noticeable. For example, Stern writes, “They do want then to know a lot about computers so they will outcompete the Japanese, but they don’t want them to know anything about real science because then they will lose their faith and become secular humanists”. These statements seem paradoxical, but they imply the differences between a school in the working-class area and a more prestigious educational establishment. Children are probably not discouraged from learning both about religion and secularism in an affluent upper-class school, and losing faith is not considered to be a problem there.

Overall, Stern’s essay outlines some of the problems faced by the schools. One of them appeals to me directly and concerns the way history is taught in schools. Today many states have made changes to their curricula, but several years ago children at schools have not been taught about how unfairly and cruelly Americans had dealt with the Native Americans, Mexicans, and other peoples who constituted racial minorities. Often both teachers and parents are afraid to traumatize children with some straightforward information about injustices in the world. I believe that young learners should confront negative information in some age appropriate dosages, with adult supervision and with proper explanation. In such a way, they will learn how to think critically and make their own conclusions.

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