What class are you in?

This gives you the background information for todays blog.

We are seeing the re-emergence of the class debate. Having been hidden from the public for almost a generation it will be interesting to see where the debate goes.

Some people don't quite get what the class system is. They confuse it with wealth. There is no doubt that wealth allows people to move within their social class but I hope that it is understood that moving from one class system to another is not so easy. (Read Jilly Cooper's book "Class" to get the idea.)

The first point I want to make about the article in the Guardian is regarding this excerpt:

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said middle-class parents were keeping their children away from the most deprived schools, creating clusters of "schools for the dispossessed".
This was having a toxic effect on the poorest children, who often needed to be with aspirational middle-class peers to flourish academically, Bousted told the ATL's annual conference in Manchester.
"We have schools for the elite, schools for the middle class and schools for the working class," she said. "Too few schools have mixed intakes where children can learn those intangible life skills of aspiration, effort and persistence from one another … the problem in the schools of the dispossessed is that they are peopled by children who lack resilience."

The final paragraph states that mixing pupils from different social classes allows them to learn "from one another". This seems one way traffic to me.

What will the working classes learn from a middle class child that they couldn't learn from a working class child? And Vice Versa.

I can imagine that a lazy middle class pupil would see industrious working class pupils in a positive light. But when they all go home, what type of society do they inhabit? The old saying of "birds of a feather flock together" not only applies in the real world but also in the virtual world. Social networking is capable of removing those class boundaries that are so obvious in the real world but, on the whole, we live in a real world.

Pupils' schooling needs to reflect society. If we aim to get an homogeneous blend in our schools then we will just see the reforming of layers within it. Pour water into a bottle. Add some oil. The oil floats.

Give the bottle a big, big shake.

Do you regret not putting the top on?

The oil becomes mixed in with the water. Until some time later when it has again reformed and floated to the top. Our schools will always be like this. There are layers of people that do not mix. Unless you unnaturally force them to.

Please don't think that I am speaking of only the lower classes here. Like many people, I started life in a working class family. My dad was a miner, as were my brothers. However my path was different.

I no longer inhabit the world of the working classes. I became educated (A-Levels, degree) and I've worked in a variety of occupations. I now teach Maths. This gives me the chance to inspire pupils from all backgrounds to work hard. However the most I see of any pupil is 4 lessons per week. Schools only see pupils in lessons for 25 hours per week. What happens outside school is, therefore, more important in forming their life choices.

But no matter what happens, you will probably always inhabit the class system that you were brought up in.

Your children, on the other hand, could always change class.


  1. With regards to your interests, I have some invisible Camembert that speaks only Russian. Might be right up your street.

  2. Camembert comes from Campus Maimberti "field of Maimbert" (a W.Gmc. personal name). I'm surprised that it speaks Russian. And that it is up my street. *checks Google Earth*


Post a Comment