Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society by Mario Vargas Llosa.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Friday, March 13, 2015

Jencks, page 139

I'll just quote this:
There is a popular theory among both educators and laymen that middle-class children work harder in school than poor children.  We cannot find any good evidence that this is so.  When we compare economically advantaged students to disadvantaged students with the same test scores, for example, we find that they get the same averages high school grades.  We assume that diligence has more effect on school grades than on standardized test scores, and we therefore conclude that economically disadvantaged students probably work as hard as economically advantaged students with comparable aptitudes.  More generally, we conclude that high school teachers reward a set of traits which, with the exception of academic aptitude, are not very class-related.  This clearly contradicts most people's preconceptions.  We suspect, though we certainly cannot prove, that these preconceptions are based on a misunderstanding of the dominant values of working-class families.  While a few lower-class and working-class children behave in ways that schools find unacceptable and try to punish, the great majority evidently do not.  The deviant minority seems, however, to shape middle-class stereotypes of working-class values and behavior.
My main thought from this is that the 60's and 70's seem to have been a better situation than I thought.  Why haven't we made more progress?

1 comment:

Phil Ebersole said...

The situation in the 1950s and 1960s was that Americans as a whole were becoming progressively wealthier, but that some groups of the population - inner city black people, unemployed coal miners in Appalachia, migrant farm workers, and so on - were being left behind.

The Great Society programs were intended to help these deprived groups participate in the economic progress of the nation as a whole.

I gather from your review that this also is the situation Christopher Jencks tried to address.

The situation is different today. The majority of Americans are falling behind economically.

Bringing underprivileged individuals into the mainstream is a good thing, an essential thing, but its benefits will be limited in the absence of a high-wage, full-employment economy