Poverty or low disposable income often results in an inadequate environment and not only for the obvious lack of resources such as books, pens and paper. Damp housing can have severe effects on health resulting in lower school attendance rates, or low concentration levels if child is often feeling unwell. Not having an allocated area to study is also an important factor. Kellet and Dar (2007) discovered that in low income areas where housing was cramped, children claimed that ‘Television was a distraction from homework because of the noise… Other distractions in the home environment were smoking, swearing, banging and loud music.
‘ Also that homework clubs were vital to the success of children from disadvantaged families. This study was performed by children, with the guidance and research techniques of sociologists, there for it is perceived as having a deeper and more honest insight in to children’s issues. Other class factors resulting in underachievement may be less obvious. Values differ between class perspectives and affect a child’s motivation. Bowes et al (1990, p119) states that working class children are more likely to leave school as soon as they can, to find a steady job.
‘ Where as the middle class value differed gratification and ‘Socialise their children in to wanting to remain in education in the hope of a better job when they do leave. ‘ This was confirmed by the Child Development survey, which found middle class students staying on at school and achieving better examination results. The Home and The school study (1964) found that ‘the degree of parent’s interest in their children’s education was the single, most important factor affecting attainment. ‘ (Haralambos et al, 2004, p102). It found that ‘Middle class parents visited school more…
and were generally more interested in their child’s education. ‘ It also states that ‘an upper middle class child was five times more likely to get in to grammar school than a child from the lower working class. ‘ Further more ‘most of the working class pupils who were successful, came from homes where the mothers were “sunken middle class. ” They wanted their children to do well and ‘expressed much parental interest,’ Bowes et al (1990, p119). This is because parental interest not only has a direct affect on the motivations and values of a child, but also on the school environment.
Middle class parents, who often have more spare time and disposable income to invest in fundraising and extra curricular activities, can raise the standards of a school immeasurably. Making school a fun place to be, that is enjoyed by all the family, creates the positive learning environment that children thrive in. Quite understandably most working class parents are to busy “earning a crust” to find the time and energy to invest in such endeavors and as such adopt an “Education is the schools job” attitude.
It is also understood that language has had a negative affect on the working class’s academic attainment. Professor Basil Bernstein has shown that the middle and lower classes use different patterns of speech. He called these patterns linguistic codes. According to Bernstein, most middle class children have been socialised in both restricted and elaborate codes, and are fluent in each. Whereas working class children are limited to the restricted code. Since teachers tend to be middle class and use the elaborate code, working class pupils are placed at a distinct disadvantage.
There is also explanation for underachievement to be found in the “hidden curriculum” of a working class teacher, that is the subliminal messages he passes to children without intention. The cultural depravation theory states that children in the bottom classes are ‘deprived of important values, attitudes, experiences and skills which are essential to educational success,’ (Haralambos et al, 2004, p102). This has been strongly criticised and there is evidence that if class differences in culture exist, they are slight and of little significance.