Assess the view that poverty is the main cause of social class difference in educational achievement

Essay by JanvieA, May 2006

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Poverty has a great impact upon social class difference in educational achievement. Homelessness causes tiredness and lack of concentration in school, which has a negative affect upon educational achievement. Douglas wrote, in his book 'The Home and the School' that working class parents are often uninterested in their children's education and therefore do not encourage them to do well, or congratulate them when they do. Also, it has been found that working class fathers seldom visit school. If a child is suffering from poverty, his/her house would have bad living conditions, without sufficient resources (such as books and computers) therefore they would not be able to reach their potential, or be able to work properly at home. Also, the best schools (with the highest grades and pass rates) are private, which a poor family would not be able to afford. Similarly, grammar schools often require tutors to get into, again which would not be affordable.

Douglas' cultural deprivation theory states that working class families are seen as the 'bottom class', with lack of skill, bad attitude, no ambition and no stimulation to do well.

Murray (a New Rightist) says that illegitimate children, from single parent families that are welfare- dependant (and therefore poor) have a low IQ.

Bourdieu said that children with cultural capital do a lot better in school. This is because they speak in an elaborated speech code, the same as the teachers, not a redistricted speech code (like working class children) and therefore often do not fully understand the teachers. Also, children with cultural capital know how to present themselves; by the way they dress and act.

At school, a teacher may label a child because they do not fit the image of the 'ideal pupil'. This is what 60 Chicago teachers classed as the 'perfect pupil',