How Social Class and
Environment Effect Teaching
By: Lucia Alfaro and
Lets take a look some factors in children’s
lives that can affect their productivity or
behavior in the classroom
Being in the lowest socioeconomic status.
Changing schools two or more times.
Being in a single parent household.
Having older siblings who dropped out.
As an educator, or related service provider, come up
with three suggestions you could use to better the child’s
In general what are some issues discussed in the
scenarios and how do they effect the children’s lives?
How would this article be tied into Vygotsky:
Zone of Proximal Development
The Role of Speech and Language
Social Class and School Knowledge.
Cook, Joan., and Cook, Greg.,
Wisconsin., Pearson Education, Inc., 2005
Kaleidoscope: Readings in Education.,
Boston., Houghton Mifflin Co., 2007
Payne, Ruby K.,
A Framework for Understanding
, Highlands, Texas. Aha! Productions Co., 1996.
New York. McGraw
The Future of Children, Princeton Bookings.,
Challenges of Staffing Urban Schools with Effective
Parent training and contact through video.
Keeping students with the same teacher
for two or more years.
Requiring daily goal setting and procedural
Relating to Vygotsky
Zone of Proximal Development: In both scenarios the students are
unable to be challenged mentally by a guardian at home. Making
any form of improvement on school work at home would be very
difficult. They don’t have the resources and parental guidance
Scaffolding: Parent is not able to provide support in Otis’ case.
Because his mother can not read she cannot provide the necessary
support for his learning.
Role of Speech and Language: In Eileen’s case, the only social
interaction that she participates in is with her 70 year old
grandmother. This in turn could affect her social speech and how
she develops her
. This may be the reason for
her still having an imaginary friend at the age of ten.
Social Class and School
Jean Anyon is a widely read critical theorist and researcher in education.
In this particular study she observed in schools in New Jersey with different
socioeconomic standings. Jean Anyon believes that by studying the types
of schools and families that children come from can determine the types of
relationships they will have to society when they are older. The working
class children seem to be headed down a road where they will be prepared
to work at jobs that are mechanical and routine, they will not need much
education after high school, “such work denies the human capacity for
creativity and planning” The executive Elite schools are responsible for
creating students who mastered all of the most difficult work. They are the
people who will go on to own capital and can run production systems.
The way that teachers in certain social classes teach can limit or facilitate
the child’s ability to move higher in the rankings of social classes.
“ The teachers in working class rarely explain why the work is being
assigned, how it might connect to other assignments, or what the idea is
that lies behind the procedure or gives it coherence or perhaps meaning or
Anyon would gather that, in the working class schools, teachers
would not be teaching to better their students knowledge but simply
to help them get by.
For example: (In the working class school, work in language
arts work is mechanics of punctuation (commas, periods, questions
marks, and exclamation points),capitalization, and the four kinds of
sentences. One teacher explained that, “Simple Punctuation is all
they will ever use.”)
Teachers treat the students with no respect, showing that
they have no belief that the children will ever amount to anything.
1. Telling them to shut up.
2. Regarding class materials as their own, not the
3. Ignoring bell schedules to keep working, for
punishment or to stand in the hall and talk.
4. Giving them busy work or no work at all.
The Executive Elite schools, the higher class in which most of the parents were
doctors, lawyers, CEO’s of major companies, had the complete opposite theories on
purpose behind schoolwork than the Working Class.
“Schoolwork helps one to achieve, to excel, to prepare for life.”
In comparison to the Working Classes ideas on Language Arts: “Language Arts
emphasizes language as a complex system, one that should be mastered. The
children are asked to diagram sentences of complex grammatical construction, to
memorize irregular verb conjugations and to use the proper participles, conjunctions
and interjections in their speech.” One teacher states, “It is not enough to get these
right on tests; you must use what you learn in your written and oral work. I will grade
you on that.”
Teachers treat with much more respect, allowing them to be more independent.
1. Encouraging students to come up with their own
ways to solve problems.
“These children’s opinions are important
that they learn to reason things through.”
2. Encouraging to challenge answers that peers give.
3. Giving students leadership roles.
4. Work that is given is not just meant for memorization it takes
applying the material.
Intro to Urban vs. Suburban
We have found two schools in which we believed to exemplify what it
means to be in an urban and in a suburban setting.
One school is found in a town in Southern Maine, with about 40,000
The other school is found in Worcester, with a population which is much
greater, approximately 175,500, making it the second largest city in New
We interviewed teachers from both schools on the subjects of budget,
environment, student experiences/problems, special programs and
technology in the schools.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when we say the word “Poverty”,
who and what types of schools would you associate with the word?
“For many Americans, the term Urban school evokes an image of a
dilapidated school building in a poor inner
city neighborhood populated with
American or Hispanic children.
Before researching this topic, we picked a
school from Maine and a school from Worcester
with obviously different environments, to
demonstrate what we thought would be dramatic
differences in quality of education. However we
found very few differences other than the
“ Although urban areas are characterized by high
rates of poverty, poverty itself is not unique to
urban areas and can be found, in particular, in
many schools in the nations rural areas.”