Social class makes a difference in how children tackle classroom problems

Aug 27, 2014
Jessica McCrory Calarco, Indiana University. Credit: Indiana University

An Indiana University study has found that social class can account for differences in how parents coach their children to manage classroom challenges. Such differences can affect a child's education by reproducing inequalities in the classroom.

"Parents have different beliefs on how to deal with challenges in the classroom," said Jessica McCrory Calarco, assistant professor in IU Bloomington's Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences. "Middle-class tell their children to reach out to the teacher and ask questions. Working-class parents see asking for help as disrespectful to teachers, so they teach their children to work out problems themselves."

Calarco studied four classrooms in a public school from their time in third grade through fifth grade. To isolate based on alone, she only collected interviews from Caucasian students and families, in addition to their teachers.

In general, middle-class children get more attention from their instructors because they actively seek it, while working-class children tend to stay silent through any of their educational struggles so as not to be a bother. Calarco said the differences in how parents teach their children to deal with problems in school stem primarily from parents' level of involvement in their 's schooling.

"Middle-class parents are more plugged into the school, so they know what teachers expect in the classroom. Working-class parents don't think it's their place to be involved, so they tend to be less aware of what expect today," Calarco said.

With the widening gaps in educational outcomes between social classes, Calarco suggested that this study could help schools become more aware of these differences and make moves to reduce the inequalities.

"Schools can step in to alleviate these differences in kids' willingness to seek help," Calarco said. "Teachers need to be aware of social class differences that students are bringing with them into the . They need to be more active in seeking out struggling students, because if we leave it up to the kids, they may not seek it themselves."

Explore further: College education not always about what you have

More information: Calarco's study, "Coached for the Classroom: Parents' Cultural Transmission and Children's Reproduction of Educational Inequalities" will be published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Middle-class children: Squeaky wheels in training

Aug 19, 2012

A study by Indiana University sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco found that working-class and middle-class parents often take very deliberate -- but different -- approaches to helping their children with their school experiences.

College education not always about what you have

Aug 19, 2014

Students who have books and computers at home, who take extramural cultural classes, and whose parents give advice and take part in school activities are most likely to enroll for a four-year college degree. Also, more American ...

Time-poor parents go digital to communicate

Apr 16, 2013

Teachers are turning to twitter, blogging and Facebook as a way of keeping in touch with parents about their child's learning, and according to QUT education expert Associate Professor Margaret Lloyd it is ...

Youth are quietly losing their hearing

Aug 27, 2014

Children and teens constantly plugged into personal listening devices, such as phones, computers or music players, could be harming their ears without realizing it, says a Purdue University audiologist.

Recommended for you

Power can corrupt even the honest

19 hours ago

When appointing a new leader, selectors base their choice on several factors and typically look for leaders with desirable characteristics such as honesty and trustworthiness. However once leaders are in power, can we trust ...

Learning at 10 degrees north

20 hours ago

Secluded beaches, calypso music and the entertaining carnival are often what come to mind when thinking of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. But Dal Earth Sciences students might first consider Trinidad's ...

How to find the knowns and unknowns in any research

21 hours ago

Have you ever felt overloaded by information? Ever wondered how to make sense of claims and counter-claims about a topic? With so much information out there on many different issues, how is a person new to ...

Minorities energize US consumer market, according to report

22 hours ago

The buying power of minority groups in the U.S. has reached new heights and continues to outpace cumulative inflation, according to the latest Multicultural Economy Report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

orti
not rated yet Aug 28, 2014
To a Marxist, you are your social class. No individuality, no family values, nothing but division by economics – and race, and gender, and so on.