Class In The Classroom

by Dish Staff

Jesse Singal flags a new paper wherein “sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco writes about what she saw when she observed a bunch of third-through-fifth-graders in a public school”:

Crucially, she only studied white kids — she wanted to isolate the effects of socioeconomic class. What she found, as McCrory put it in the study’s press release, is that “Middle-class parents 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.”

The natural question, she said in an email to Science of Us, is why working- and middle-class parents give their kids different sorts of guidance about proper behavior in school. “What I found was that middle-class parents were deeply involved in their kids’ schooling, and as a result, had a lot of detailed knowledge about what today’s teachers expect,” she said. “Working-class parents tended to be less involved and, as a result, relied on their own experiences in school to gauge what teachers would expect (i.e., ‘My teachers used to yell at students if they asked for help’).”