Jean Anyon Social Class And The Hidden Curriculum Of Work Analysis

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Education in schools has long been a heated topic, especially in regards to what its purpose is. On one hand, some, such as the ACSD Committee, argue that education’s purpose is “to provide for the fullest possible development of each learner for living morally, creatively, and productively in a democratic society.” However, others identify a far more critical purpose of education, such as that of Jean Anyon. Anyon theorizes in her article “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work,” that the function of our educational systems is to uphold the structure of today’s society that keeps the working class majority oppressed and its top 1% superior to the working class through the way the curriculum is taught. As someone who has been in school …show more content…
In the working class school, Anyon defines work as following the steps of a procedure. Examples given by Anyon include: in the math class, where students are given the names of symbols and are told the steps to solving a problem; another instance in which they are given a series of steps to make one-inch grid paper; and in the science class, where the students are told to copy the directions from the book for the procedure and to study them. Anyon writes that the work is “largely mechanical, rote work that was given little explanation or connection to larger contexts.” In the middle class school, Anyon defines work as getting the right answer. Unlike the working class school, the work involves some choice and there is recognition that cognitive processes are involved, however this is done to ensure that the student ultimately gets the correct answer, as one teacher says, “I want to make sure you understand what you’re doing--so you get it right.” Most lessons across all subjects are based from the textbook and require little creativity, so that it can be checked whether the student got the right answer. In the affluent professional school, work is defined by Anyon as creative activity carried out independently, with the students frequently asked “to express and apply ideas and concepts.” In social studies, there is an emphasis on illustrating and recreating the …show more content…
There is a stark contrast between the working and middle class schools’ interactions between teachers and students and those of the affluent professional and executive elite schools. At the working class school, many of the decisions the teachers made were made with neither an explanation nor the consultation of the students. Teachers also typically spoke to the students disrespectfully: the investigator seldom heard the teachers give an unsarcastic “please,” “let’s,” or “would you”; rather, they would directly order students to shut up. The students, meanwhile, often struggled to stay quiet and were resistant to the teacher’s orders. In the middle class school, the level of control the teacher has depends on the teacher: some are relaxed, whereas others are stern. Unlike the working class schools, teachers honor bells. The questions students asked are “tolerated” by the teachers and the answers given are “perfunctory.” Among the children, there is not that much enthusiasm for the work, as one student said, “store facts in your head--until you need it later for a test, or your job.” At the affluent professional school, the level of control in the class is negotiated by the teacher with the students. Rarely does the teacher give direct orders--as opposed to the working class school. Students are allowed to leave the classroom three at a time, as well as

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