Class and the classroom

Finally, Bourdieu is getting some play in classroom instruction. An article from March 2013 in Educational Researcher :

This essay describes a vision of social class–sensitive pedagogy aimed at disrupting endemic classism in schools. We argue persistent upward mobility discourses construct classist hierarchies in schools and classroom practice and are founded on misunderstandings of work, lived experiences of social class, and the broader social and economic context of the United States and the world. Educators may unwittingly alienate the very students they hope to inspire, cause for serious inquiry into what a social class–sensitive pedagogy might entail. The manuscript highlights five interrelated principles that provide insights to what research tells us and how it can be used in K–12 and teacher education.

But isn’t half the point of classroom to inculcate shared cultural values — in the case of the U.S., the unassailable rightness of the capitalist system and that success is measured by money and possessions — into tiny, impressionable minds?

I had to check out the paper.  Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall, so it is difficult to access.  But it’s a nice attempt to summarize decades of class-based pedagogy work.  American history too often suffers from this class-based malady, describing the past in terms of economic winners and losers. Who among us learned as much about Ida Tarbell as we did Frederick Douglass?  Right.

The article also graciously restates what some might consider the obvious:

In short, although the United States has long claimed an American Dream and meritocracy where anyone can be financially successful and upwardly mobile, we have come to know and believe that social class is not only an individual endeavor nor experience—it is also saturated with the broader social, economic, and political contexts including the grim reality that the rate of social class mobility in the United States is significantly lower than other industrialized countries.

But who among us outside of the zombie shell that is Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous — two outsider organizations working in opposition to broad, powerful and moneyed social interests — is addressing this reality?  I happened to catch the end of the movie “Catch Me If You Can” yesterday at the point when Agent Hanrahan is able to stop Frank Abagnale Jr. from fleeing once again.  He stops him cold with the line “Sometimes the lie is easier than living the life.”  How long will we in the U.S. continue to turn a blind eye from the reality?  I fear this could go on awhile.  And social media, far from blowing the lid off injustice, corruption and the status quo, too often is just another distraction, with nuggest of information drowned in a sea of Bieber tweets.