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Example research essay topic: Educational Attainment And Social Class - 2,455 words

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Educational Attainment and Social Class (1) There can be no doubt as to the fact that educational attainment and class affiliation are closely related categories. After all, it is highly improbable to find children of welfare recipients among students of Harvard or Yale. However, does it automatically mean that children of rich parents are guaranteed to succeed, during the course of their academic studies? Before we get to answer this question, let us define the very essence of enrollment criteria that is being utilized in places of high learning. Along with having to prove that their parents have the financial means to pay for studies, the potential students are also often being made to undergo an IQ tests and to demonstrate that they posses a minimum of required factual knowledge, before they are being accepted to study in a particular college or university. Apparently, in order for the student to succeed in studies, his or her brain must be capable of operating with highly abstract categories.

We can come up with many instances of bright children being able to find their way into prestigious universities, despite their parents low social status. However, there has not been even a single example of mentally retarded young man of woman being accepted to study in university, simply because of its parents sheer wealth. This provides us with the insight on the fact that the high rate of IQ, which is the single most important factor that allows students to attain academic excellence, does not correspond to their social status, as much as it corresponds to who they are, in biological sense of this word. In the next part of this paper, we will discuss this thesis in details. (2) In their article Effects of Class Positions of Parents on Educational Attainment of Daughters and Sons, Reza Nakhaie and James Curtis, are making a very good point when they suggest that the influence of students class affiliation on their educational achievement can no longer be discussed from traditional prospective, because the concept of class had long ago lost its Marxist essence: There is a growing consensus among scholars working within this research tradition on the view that, while differences in economic resources held by the family contribute to the relationship between class positions and offspring's education, this relationship is also partially explained by the differential possession of cultural capital (Nakhaie, Curtis. p. 485). For example, nowadays, it became a widespread practice to discuss educational underachievement of Hispanics within a context of this ethnic group being held in socially underprivileged position.

We are being told that the reason why average Hispanic high school graduate is so much more likely to end up pushing drugs on the street then enrolling into university or college, is because social prejudices did not allow his parents to attain higher education, which in its turn, had left them with relying on welfare checks as the only source of income. Thus, it is only the matter of time, before this graduate will be locked up in jail, or will follow the footsteps of his parents, as the best possible scenario. If we choose to adopt this point of view on the relation between social status and educational attainment, then it would lead us to conclusion that poverty derives out of lack of education and vice versa, and that this vicious circle can never be broken. The social prejudices towards Hispanics are being explained by the fact that these people have a hard time learning English.

At the same time, statistics shows that 80 % of newly arrived Chinese immigrants children end up enrolling in colleges and universities, despite the fact that their parents could not possibly dream of anything more then owning a public laundromat, upon coming to this country. The same can be said about children of East European immigrants. This seeming contradiction can only be explained within a context of concept of cultural capital. In her book Unequal Origins: Immigrant Selection and the Education of the Second Generation, Cynthia, Feliciano criticizes neo-Liberal concept of educational underachievement as something that solemnly derives out of social inequality: Why some immigrant groups children seem to follow an upwardly mobile path, while others seem destined to remain in permanent poverty? I argue that an often-neglected factor - the selective nature of immigrants migration - also helps explain striking educational disparities among immigrants children, and should be considered within the segmented assimilation viewpoint (Feliciano, p. 136). This statement, apart from pointing out at sheer insanity of todays immigration policy, which favours immigrants from Third World over immigrants from European countries, also helps us to understand a simple truth that it is ones genetic hereditary that defines the degree of his or her educational attainment more then anything else does.

The realities of post-modern living significantly reduce the effects of peoples social status on their chances of attaining social prominence, with the mean of becoming highly educated professionals. Nowadays, there are not that many barriers left for young people who come from poor families to receive a good education. All they have to do is walking to the nearest bank to fill out an application form for receiving an educational loan. There are also no objective reasons for the welfare recipients not to be willing to let their kids to attend public schools after all, government pays for everything.

The policy of affirmative action, which is now being adopted by many places of high learning in America, even provides conditions for academic enrollment to those young people who, besides being poor, have absolutely no inclination for studying. Thus, in the eyes of existential opportunity in Western countries, all the people are equal. Nevertheless, as practice shows, only citizens entitled with cultural capital can be thought of as being socially privileged. In the article, from which we have already quoted earlier, Nakhaie and James Curtis provide us with the insight of the essence of this concept: The concept, cultural capital, refers to the ensemble of high-status culture and cultivated dispositions which manifest themselves in such things as appreciation of higher education and the best schools, attendance at museums, art galleries, theatres and concerts (Nakhaie, Curtis. p. 491). The notion of culture strongly relates to the notion of existential traditions, which in their turn, can only be perceived by the individual who experiences a spiritual connection to a particular cultural heritage, with which he or she associates itself.

For such individual, the prospects of educational advancement represent a metaphysical value. However, people affected by racial mixing have a hard time associating themselves with any cultural heritage whatsoever, because, apart from having their ability to operate with abstract notions being significantly undermined, they also lack existential idealism something that would prompt them to attend museums, theaters, and concerts, rather then watching Jerry Springer Show. Thus, the fact that educational standards in Western countries are being continuously lowered, since the time when celebration of diversity attained a compulsory status, can be explained by racial marginalization of these countries and not by widening gap between rich and poor, as it is being suggested by progressive sociologists. In their book Bell Curve, which was published in 1994, Richard Herrstein and Charles Murray were able to establish a strong link between individuals ability to understand the meaning of abstract concepts and his or her racial affiliation: The genetic component of IQ is unlikely to be smaller than 40 percent or higher than 80 percent.

For purposes of this discussion, we will adopt a middling estimate of 60 percent heritability, which, by extension, means that IQ is only about 40 percent a matter of environment (Herrstein and Murray, p. 105). In other words, the objective reasons for varied degrees of educational attainment, observed among people that belong to different socio-political and ethnic groups, corresponds more to such peoples biological makeup then to their social status. Therefore, suggesting that social status is only the factor, which defines peoples ability to succeed academically, is conceptually wrong. In his article Time to Tackle the Education Achievement Gap, Jim Boren proves the validity by earlier statement by suggesting that: Theres an achievement gap in which White students score higher than minority students no matter what their economic circumstances are Poor white students score better than poor Hispanic and African-American students, according to the California Department of Education (Boren, 2007). Moreover, we can say that it is White students who know the ways of the street, because of being unable to attend private schools, which have better prospects of educational and professional advancement. This is because, while possessing a genetically predetermined high IQ, they also do not have a hard time while coming to terms with objective reality, unlike those who went to Catholic private schools, where the harsh realities of living in multicultural America, are being artificially concealed from children.

There are two factors that define individuals educational and social success fulness his IQ rate and his ability to understand how his theoretical knowledge can be applied in practice. It appears that people, who come to university from the lower strata of society, are more likely to posses a so-called quick mind. They are more capable of opening their minds to new ideas, they are less dogmatic in their perception of the world, they know how to manage their time in most effective manner and they are usually willing to apply an extra effort, when it comes to pursuing their educational agenda. These students know how to appreciate the educational opportunity that was being given to them. People who have inclination for studying will be able to realize their dreams of becoming highly educated individuals, even if their parents could not give them anything but beside their love. One of the greatest Black writers Booker T.

Washington once said: The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race (Washington, p. 99). He did it in time, when there were laws against Black people studying in universities yet, it did not prevent him from getting a university diploma. Today, the majority of Black students in schools are being forcibly taken through grades, despite the fact that in Hollywood movies, Black characters are being almost exclusively portrayed as computer geniuses and future American Presidents. This brings us to conclusion that people who keep rambling about close ties between social disparity and the absence of educational opportunities, need to be referred to as being very naive. As we have mentioned earlier, the realities of post-modern era prevent us from discussing social stratification in traditional sense of this word.

We can only agree with Yannick Level, who in his book Changing Structures of Inequality: A Comparative Perspective states: A contemporary analysis of inequality can no longer restrict the list of the potential structuring factors today to the single traditional position of the person in the world of work and production. Age or generation, gender, and citizenship must at least be taken into consideration (Level, p. 432). Author also briefly mentions immigration as factor that contributes to social inequality in Canada, although he never bothers to explain why it never occurred to citizens to consider immigrants as being socially disadvantaged, before leftist wackos decided to begin building a multicultural utopia in this country. The reason is simple he does not want to loose his job at McGill University, as a result of being charged with racism. Thus, we can say that it is only in classical capitalist societies, where the prospects of educational attainment, on the part of specific group of people, used to be associated with their social origin.

Back then, the talents of many gifted children were being wasted, because their parents simply could not afford sending them to schools and colleges. However, even at that time, truly outstanding individuals were still able to gain social prominence, despite seemingly impossible odds. Nowadays, it is not simply that the children of poor parents are being forcibly sent to school, but even mentally retarded kids are also being given the chance of making themselves useful, in social sense of this word, by the mean of attaining some practical skills in specialized classes. As for now, having to put children through school, does not represent an impossible task, even for parents of very low social standing.

In fact, some industrious parents, who had emigrated to the West from Third World countries, strive to conceive as many children as possible, in order to begin receiving substantial welfare payments from the government. By the time these kids reach the age of 18, they become automatically qualified to receive even more governments money, with the doors of colleges and universities being wide open for them, thanks to affirmative action. However, as practice shows, only very few of them take the advantage of opportunity, because it is so much easier to simply sell drugs, as the ultimate mean of celebrating their ethnic uniqueness. Bibliography: Attach, Peter The Racial Dilemma in American Higher Education. New York: State University of New York Press. 1991.

Boren, Jim Time to Tackle the Education Achievement Gap. 22 Oct. 2007. Sacred. Com. 1 Aug. 2008. web Devine, Fiona Class Practices: How Parents Help Their Children Get Good Jobs. West Nyack, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Furlong, Andy.

Young People and Social Change. Buckingham, GBR: Open University Press, 2006. Fagin, James The continuing significance of racism: Discrimination against Black students in White colleges. Journal of Black Studies, v. 22, n. 4, 1992, p. 546 - 578.

Feliciano, Cynthia Unequal Origins: Immigrant Selection and the Education of the Second Generation. New York, NY, USA: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC, 2005. Game, Chris Gender, Race and Class in Schooling: An Introduction for Teachers. London, GBR: Falmer Press, Limited (UK), 1998. Herrstein, Richard and Murray, Charles. Bell Curve, New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. , 1994.

Level, Yannick Changing Structures of Inequality: A Comparative Perspective. Montreal, PQ, CAN: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001. Kingston, Paul The High Status Track: Studies of Elite Schools and Stratification Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press, 1990. Power, Sally Education in the Middle Class.

Berkshire, GBR: Mcgrawhill Education, 2003. Nakhaie, Reza and Curtis, James Effects of Class Positions of Parents on Educational Attainment of Daughters and Sons. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, v. 35 no. 4, (November 1998) p. 483 - 515. Thompson, Jane Women, Class and Education.

London, UK: Routledge, 2000. Tight, Malcolm Researching Higher Education: Issues and Approaches. Berkshire, GBR: Mcgrawhill Education, 2003. Washington, Booker Up From Slavery. Airport Edition.

New York: State University of New York Press. 1967. Abstract: This paper argues that educational attainment does not correspond to ones social origin. Outline: Introduction Main part


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