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Posts Tagged ‘education’

Chinese Parents’ Involvement in Children’s Education

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that from time-to-time we’ve been able to feature research done by Richard Driscoll’s Sociology A-level students at the Shenzhen College of International Education in China and the latest study to come our way, by Ma Jia Ying, looks at the involvement of Chinese parents in decisions made by their sons and daughters about what to study in higher education.

The research should be interesting to UK teachers and students for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, it gives a comparative cultural insight into family relationships and educational processes in an area that will be familiar to many UK students – the extent to which family pressures impact on the choices made by individual students in terms of their future educational careers.

Secondly, another interesting dimension is the construction and implementation of the research itself: this is made manifest in areas like the choices made by the researcher in terms of sampling, research methods, reliability, validity and so forth, their awareness of methodological uses and limitations and their evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of their research.

If you want to get in touch with Richard about this research, his students or maybe to make a fruitful contact between your school / college students and his – you can contact him via his Twitter account

15 | Youth: Part 4

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Although the concept of “youth culture” – a ‘shared way of life’, with its own distinctive roles, values, norms, beliefs and practices, common to young people and different to other generational groups (such as the elderly) – has a certain face validity, it’s not one that has a great deal of sociological currency in contemporary societies (for reasons we’ve previously outlined and explored).

Similarly, the concept of youth subcultures is one that has, it’s probably fair to say, fallen out of the sociological mainstream in recent times, partly because of the dramatic decline in its “spectacular” forms (the mods, hippies and punks of your parents (and possibly grandparents) generations), but mainly because even in these spectacularly overt forms there is actually very little evidence of subcultural organisation – such as the ability to socialise new members or reproduce the group over time, for example.

While “youth subcultures”, in other words, are seen as behavioural forms that are, by definition, defined by the overwhelming presence and participation of “young people”, there’s arguably little evidence they constitute subcultural groupings in the generally-accepted use of the term.

It’s Dead, Dave. They’re all Dead

Youth culture and subculture are, in this respect, sometimes called “zombie concepts” -explanations that, while they once had some form of life, have long-ago ceased to have any real meaning, currency or relevance for our understanding of young people’s behaviour. They’re dead, but they just don’t know it (although they can still be dangerous because they cloud the way we think about youth).

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BBC “Analysis” Podcasts

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Over the past 10 years BBC Radio 4’s Analysis series has created a range of podcasts “examining the ideas and forces which shape public policy in Britain and abroad, presented by distinguished writers, journalists and academics”.

There are over 200 podcasts to trawl through, many of which won’t be of any interest or use to sociology teachers and students, but a relatively smaller number just might. To save you a lot of time and trouble (there’s no need to thank me, I’m nice like like) I’ve had a quick look through the list to select what I think might be the sociological highlights.

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Education and the New Right: The 3 “C’s”

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Working backwards in the alphabet, as you do, the second element to Boyd’s (1991) characterization of new Right approaches to education (the first is here if you missed it) focuses on the “3 C’s”: Character, Content and Choice.

1. Character refers to the notion of moral character and, more-importantly from a New Right perspective, how to encourage and develop it through the education system. In this respect the socialisation function of education means schools have an important role to play in both producing new consumers and workers and also ensuring children have the “right attitudes” for these roles. Part of this process involves (in a similar sort of argument to that used by Functionalists’) instilling respect for legitimate authority and the development of future business leaders.

More recently, a refinement on the notion of moral character has focused on what Duckworth et.al. (2007) have called grit, something they define as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”.

The idea here is that the combination of passion for educational goals coupled with the desire to achieve them is a key indicator of educational achievement – one they claim is a more-important predictor of “future success” (an idea you might like to subject to critical evaluation) than any other notable variable).

This claim does, of course, open up a range of critical possibilities for students – from Crede et.al.’s (2016) conclusion that “the higher-order structure of grit is not confirmed, that grit is only moderately correlated with performance and retention, and that grit is very strongly correlated with conscientiousness” to why it should be an attractive idea to New Right approaches.

2. Core Content: The emphasis here is the establishment of a curriculum designed to meet the needs of the economy, an idea that links neatly into discussion of the role and purpose of the education system. From this perspective the main objective for schools is to adequately prepare children for their working adult lives in ways that benefit the overall economy. This generally involves the idea that there should be a mix of academic and vocational courses and qualifications open to students; in the past this has meant the New Right championing Grammar schools (an idea currently (2017) being revived in New Right political circles) that provided an academic type of education for a relatively small elite (around 20%) of children and Secondary Modern / Technical schools that provided a vocational type of education.

Currently the vogue is to provide different types of academic / vocational qualifications (such as “ordinary” GCSEs and “vocational” GCSEs) within the same school. For the majority of students the curriculum emphasis should be on some variety of training with the objective being to ensure schools produce students with the skills businesses need (“Key Skills”, for example, such as Maths, English and ICT).

The New Right is, as might be expected, keen on “traditional subjects” (English, Maths and History) and antagonistic to subjects like Media and Film Studies – and, of course, Sociology.

3. Choice of school: Parents should be free to choose the school they want their children to attend – whether this be State maintained or private. The basic model here is a business one: just like with any business, those that offer the customer good value will thrive and those that offer poor value will close – or in the current case, “underperforming schools” are forcibly converted into Academy Schools run by a variety of Trusts. When parents exercise choice “good” schools will expand to accommodate all those who want a place and “bad” schools will close as their numbers decline.

Education and the New Right: The 5 “D’s”

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

If you want a simple, straightforward and memorable (possibly) way to sum-up New Right approaches to education, you could do worse than adopt Boyd’s (1991) characterisation of the “5 Ds” of the New Right perception of the role of education and training in contemporary English / Western societies:

1. Disestablishment: The school system should be decoupled from State control; private businesses should be encouraged to own and run schools, just as private companies run supermarkets or accountancy firms. The government doesn’t, for example, tell Tesco how to organise and run its shops so the New Right see little reason for governments playing such a role in education.

2. Deregulation: Within certain broad limits private owners should be free to offer the kind of educational facilities and choices they believe parents want; schools should be “freed” from Local Authority / government control.

3. Decentralisation: Control over the day-to-day decision-making within a school should fall on the shoulders of those best-placed to make decisions in the interests of their clients – something that involves giving power to those closest to individual schools (governors and headteachers) rather than decision-making being in the hands of those who are remote from the specific needs of such schools (governments, politicians and the like).

Power, in this respect, is seen to be most efficiently exercised by those furthest away (school leaders) from the centre of government power (because they know and understand particular local conditions and circumstances and can respond quickly to change in a way government bureaucracies cannot).

4. Diminution: Once each of the above ideas are operating the State has a much-reduced role to play in education and hence national education spending should fall (to be replaced by a variety of localized initiatives – including private, fee-paying, education, local forms of taxation and so forth). This idea dovetails with the idea of “consumer choice” in education and general New Right thinking about the size and role of the State; if education takes a smaller part of the national tax budget people pay less tax and are free to spend that money on the education of their choice.

5. De-emphasis: With each of the above in place the power of government is diminished (or de-emphasised) with the power to make educational decisions focused at the local level of individual schools.

Connecting Walls Collection

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Oriel Sociology has been busy creating and posting a huge number of revision Connecting Walls on Twitter and, in the spirit of “pinching other people’s stuff and sharing it with a wider audience”, I’ve pulled all their tweets together into one handy blog post for your – and your students’ – greater convenience.

So, if you’re looking for a fun way to spice-up classroom revision with a bit of competitive tension, try some or all of the following:

Education

Education Wall 1

Education Wall 2

Education Wall 3

Education Wall 4  

Education Wall 5

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School Climate: A different dimension to differential educational achievement?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

The relationship between social class – or socio-economic status (SES) if you prefer – and differential educational achievement is well-known at A-level and students are expected to discuss and evaluate a range of possible factors / explanations for this relationship; these are usually grouped, largely for theoretical convenience, into “outside school” and “inside school” factors, each involving a range of material and cultural factors. The latter, for example, conventionally include things like:

  • Type of School (private, grammar, comprehensive…)
  • Teacher Attitudes that involve ideas about labelling and self-fulfilling prophecies
  • Ability grouping – practices such as streaming, setting and banding.
  • Social inclusion / exclusion – for example, physical exclusion / suspension as well as self-exclusion (truancy).
  • Pro-and-anti school subcultures.
  • Although each of these is arguably significant, they reflect a rather piecemeal approach to explaining educational achievement differences, particularly those of social class.

    One way of pulling some – if not necessarily all – of these strands together is through the concept of school climate; this encompasses a range of material and cultural organisational factors focused on “the school” that, proponents argue, foster academic achievement.

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    GCSE AQA Sociology Revision Guides

    Friday, January 13th, 2017

    I recently came across this interesting set of guides for the AQA Spec., written by Lydia Hiraide of The BRIT School.

    The guides are dated 2013 – and although I’m not sure how they might fit into the latest Specification, I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot here that’s still relevant.

    You can download the following guides in pdf format:

    Socialisation

    Family

    Education

    Crime and deviance

    Social inequality

    Unit 1: Revision guide

     

    A-Level Revision: Education

    Friday, November 25th, 2016

    ghrevAs an addendum to the Revision Booklets post, here’s one I missed earlier – an extensive revision booklet for AS Education produced by Greenhead College.

    As you might expect from a Sociology department consistently ranked as outstanding by Ofstead their approach is:

    1. Thorough – the booklet includes a comprehensive set of revision notes.
    2. Informative – the document is annotated with helpful suggestions about how to demonstrate various assessment objectives in written exam answers.

     

    GCSE Revision Resources

    Thursday, November 24th, 2016

    While it’s probably fair to say that teacher-created GCSE revision resources are a bit thin on the ground (and take a bit of finding), there are useful resources “out there” if you’re prepared to do a lot of searching. To save you the time and trouble, here’s some I found earlier (the quality’s a bit variable, but needs must etc.):

    gcsemedia

    Unit 1 Revision Guide

    Unit 1: Education

    Unit 2 Topics – keywords / concepts

    Crime and Deviance

    Mass Media Revision Booklet

    Unit B671 (Sociology Basics) Revision: Methods / Culture / Socialisation / Identity

     

     

    A-level Revision Booklets

    Thursday, November 24th, 2016

    If you’re looking for revision ideas / inspiration check-out this set of AS Sociology Revision booklets produced by the Tudor Grange Academy:booklet

     

    Booklet 1

    Booklet 2

    Booklet 3

     

    And if you want something to add to your classroom walls, they’ve also produced some basic Sociology posters:

    pomo_poster

    Feminism

    Functionalism

    Marxism

    Postmodernism

    Social Action

     

    Sociology Factsheets: To Buy or DIY?

    Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

    fsheetLike all good ideas, this one is simple but effective.

    Distil topic notes into key knowledge points, add illustrative examples and brief overviews of advantages and disadvantages, throw in some exam tips and short “test yourself” questions, call it a factsheet and sell it at a very reasonable price to teachers – which is exactly what the Curriculum Press (http://www.curriculum-press.co.uk) has done.

    If you want samples of the various factsheets (their web site lists around 160), there are a few scattered around the web that I’ve cobbled together and presented here for your viewing pleasure:  (more…)

    Yet More Sociology Stuff: Education

    Thursday, November 10th, 2016

    A few more pdf pages from the inestimable pen of Mark Peace that, in no particular order (and with no particular logic), cover the following:

    Natural Intelligence

    Introduction to education

    Vocational education

    Private education 

    Class and DEA – inside school factors

    DEA – Cultural difference theory

    Sociological Detectives: Evidence Summary Sheet

    Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

    sctv_evidenceTo complement the Theory Summary sheet you can combine it with the Evidence Summary sheet that performs a similar function within the Sociological Detectives sim. In this respect it provides:

    1. A basic structure for students to follow when making notes about the different kinds of evidence they can use to support or question theoretical explanations for differential educational achievement.
    2. A standardised format for sharing information around the class electronically (using Padlet / Google Drive for example).

     

     

    Sociological Detectives: Theory Summary Sheet

    Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

    Iftheory_summary you’re using the Sociological Detectives sim you might find this simple Theory Summary sheet useful because it provides a couple of helpful things:

    1. A basic structure for students to follow when examining different theories of differential educational achievement. It allows them to record information in a simple, consistent, way.
    2. If you’re sharing information around the class electronically (using the Padlet / Google Drive options I suggested, for example) the summary sheet represents a standardised format that will be consistent across all students.

     

    The Sociological Detectives: DEA

    Monday, October 31st, 2016

    In splashthis sim students take the role of “sociological detectives” investigating the reasons for differential educational achievement. Broadly, the sim involves:

  • identifying a range of theories that can be used to explain differential educational achievement across and within categories of class, gender and ethnicity.
  • identifying and collecting evidence that can be used to test (support or refute) the various theories examined.

  • The accompanying PowerPoint is designed to help you develop this structure and while it’s not essential it can help to both set and explain the scene by introducing the idea of suspects, theory development and evidence gathering at the core of the sim.

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    More Sociology Stuff: History of Education

    Saturday, October 29th, 2016

    These short files provide brief coverage of the main signposts in the history of English education, from the first Education Act in 1870 to the major curriculum reforms introduced by the Thatcher Conservative government in 1988 (the Act came into force in 1990).

    As you might expect, the rapid – and I do mean fast – educational changes that have taken place since 1988 have made some of this Stuff outdated in the sense of having been discarded or replaced by more-recent changes, and if you use it you’ll need to point-out to students Stuff that’s no-longer current; it is, however, generally useful as an important part of our understanding of the historical development of the education system in our society.

    1870 Foster Education Act

    1944 Butler Education Act

    1965 Comprehensivisation

    1988 Education Reform Act

    Sociology Stuff: DEA

    Friday, October 28th, 2016

    Istufff you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll tell you a story.

    A long, long, time ago, when the Internet was still young, there existed a web site, created by Mark Peace, called Sociology Stuff. This web site specialised in producing high quality sociology stuff (hence the name. Probably. I’m guessing) for a few years before Mark got bored or went off to do a PhD or something and the site just disappeared, along with all the stuff it contained. Which was a shame.

    Luckily, someone who shall be nameless (but we’ll call “Chris” because that’s actually his name) saved a lot of this stuff onto one of his many hard drives and forgot about it. Either because he was Very, Very, Busy (the official version). Or because he was just a little bit jealous and wanted to keep all the Stuff for himself (the version I’m leaning toward).

    (more…)

    The Marketisation of Education: Branding

    Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

    The development of Academy schools and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to oversee the management of such schools has been a well-documented dimension of the marketisation of education in England and Wales over the past 20 years. As such, when writing about the New Right and / or marketisation in an exam this is an obvious example to note.

    What may be less obvious, however, is an idea noted by Warwick Mansell (Is reputation a touchy subject for chain?) when he suggests branding – how “the public” perceive a particular chain of schools and the impact this might have on student recruitment – has become a significant factor in relation to the management of some schools.

    “An academy chain considered declining to take over a struggling school because of the potential risk to its “brand”, a document released under freedom of information reveals.

    The minutes of a meeting in February of the E-ACT trust’s audit and risk committee show senior staff and trustees worrying that the unnamed Bristol school’s “poor exam results could trigger an Ofsted inspection”, which would lead to a “requires improvement” judgment after the takeover “resulting in damage to E-ACT brand”.

    In the end, E-ACT did take on a Bristol primary it now names Hareclive academy, approved by the DfE. It says the discussion about its brand was all part of its “due diligence” and it was pleased to have received the department’s vote of confidence. 

    But the concentration on “brand” may be seen by some as another manifestation of increasing commercialisation in schools. And some might wonder why E-ACT was allowed to expand after Ofsted warned, just weeks before the meeting that it was providing too many of its pupils with a “not good enough” education. The chain lost control of 10 schools in 2014 after an earlier Ofsted report, so its reputation may be a touchy subject.”

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 7: Cards, Cakes and Class

    Monday, October 3rd, 2016

    sim_cakesThe final offering in what no-one’s calling “The Wonderful Week of Sims” is designed to give students practical experience of social inequality based on the unequal distribution of economic resources (wealth) – the eponymous “cake” of the title. While this can be an end in itself – a central part of the sim is the physical segregation of students within the same classroom – it can also be the building block for an examination of the possible consequences of such inequality.

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    Seven Sims in Seven Days: The Introduction

    Monday, September 26th, 2016

    I’ve long been interested in the idea of using simulations (and games – see Disclaimer below) as teaching tools – see, for example, a couple of online efforts I created many moons ago when the Internet was still young and frames seemed such a good idea:

    1. Education and Differential Achievement: The Sociological Detective http://www.sociology.org.uk/revtece1.htm

    Although the game is incomplete it should convey the overall idea that “studying sociology” at A-level can be a bit like being a detective – you identify “suspects”, develop theories to explain social phenomena and collect / evaluate different types of evidence.

    1. Crime, Deviance and Methods: The Great Chocolate Bar Theft http://www.sociology.org.uk/game1.htm (be aware the email answers part of the sim will not work for technical reasons that are just too boring to bother explaining)

    One of the problems, aside from having the time and ability to think them up, has always been the difficulty of finding materials that not only delight, surprise and occasionally befuddle students but which also have teaching content that repays all the time and effort required to set-up and use them effectively in the classroom.

    The Internet has, to some extent, made this easier in terms of finding stuff and it has to be noted that just about everything that’s presented here has been invented by someone other than myself. Where I know who created the materials they’re given appropriate credit but in some instances I don’t have the first idea about the identity of their creator, so if you are that person I’d just like to say “Sorry”, “Thank You” and “I’ve hidden all my money in off-shore trusts, so don’t bother suing”.

    (more…)

    Sociology ShortCuts: Labelling Theory

    Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

    Labelling is a staple theory in the sociology of crime – both in its own right (Becker’s concept of the Outsider, for example) and in terms of its incorporation into other theoretical explanations (Radical Criminology, for example) – and in this ShortCut Professor Sandra Walklate outlines some of the theory’s key ideas:

    • Outsiders
    • Social interaction and shared understandings
    • Labelling process
    • Social contexts
    • Social reaction
    • Primary and secondary deviation
    • Tolerance levels
    • Deviant labels
    • Self-worth and self-identity

    (more…)

    Mapping Differential Educational Achievement

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

    Differences in UK educational achievement are normally categorised across three main dimensions – class, gender and ethnicity – of which the former is generally seen by sociologists of education as the primary determinant of achievement differences (as measured by exam grades), while gender and in some instances ethnicity is generally preferred by politicians and media commentators – Our schools are failing boys, which is bad news for Britain – for reasons that shouldn’t be too difficult to understand (although that, perhaps, is a story for another time).

    Ken Browne (Sociology for AQA, Vol. 1: AS and 1st-Year A Level), for example, captures this often-complex hierarchy by structuring achievement in terms of class (the primary determinant), with gender and ethnicity as secondary determinants. As can be seen from this graphic the argument here is that differences in educational achievement are primarily class-based (upper class children achieve more than working class children) with gender / ethnic gradations within each class.

    This graphic is helpful because it provides a simple visual representation that allows students to understand not just within-class differences, (between for example boys and girls) but also cross-class differences; upper class boys, for example, generally achieve more than working class girls. By understanding this students should be able to construct more-nuanced answers to questions about differential achievement.

    Taking It Further? (more…)

    SCTV Weekly Round-Up

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

    A little late, but worth the wait. Probably.

    Our weekly round-up of the sites and stories that are hot.

    Or not.

    (more…)