"Learning to Labor" and Class-Based Values in Education
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The paper discusses how Paul Willis' sociology text "Learning to Labor" suggests that the construction of identity relative to occupation is culturally determined and socially shaped, rather than solely based upon an individual's innate fitness for a specific task. The paper describes how Willis selected twelve boys who had been 'tracked' early on in their academic careers as not suitable for university and then found that they had internalized this self-perception of themselves and framed their lack of ambition as a virtue. The paper highlights the continual reinforcement of values and attitudes and how they rendered the young men non-functional within a upwardly mobile capitalistic workplace, despite the rhetoric of democracy espoused in regards to education. The paper emphasizes Willis' message that although our world purports to be democratic, it in fact reinforces age-old social divisions of money and class.
From the Paper:"Willis selected twelve boys who had been 'tracked' early on in their academic careers as not suitable for university. He found that they had internalized this self-perception of themselves and framed their lack of ambition as a virtue. They saw themselves as really 'living life' unlike the boys they called 'ear'oles' who did hope to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps through educational efforts. These efforts were seen as futile by the lads. "I mean what will they remember of their school life...Sitting in a classroom" (Willis 14). The boys were often abusive to non-whites as part of their justification of 'fun,' generating a sense of racial and national, as well as class solidarity.
"Willis saw the discriminatory class-based values of British society as being reinforced within the schooling system. Although the boys would have denied it, they were in actuality quite pliable and submitted to pressure to conform to what was considered suitable aspirations. Teachers often expressed a kind of covert (sometimes overt) admiration for the lads' carousing and drinking. When the boys were caught drinking during the school day, the primary surprise was not that they were doing it, but they had done it at a time when it was so obvious and they were likely to be spotted (Willis 16). The boys were expected to fail and remain lower-class workers."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Bennett, "Dialogue, knowledge, and teacher-student relations: Freirean Pedagogy intheory and practice." Comparative Education Review, 49. 3 (2005): 344: Retrieved April 12, 2011 athttp://www.tc.columbia.edu/faculty/bartlett/publications/pdf/49_3CER.pdf
- Knight, T. (2001). "Longitudinal development of educational theory: Democracy and theclassroom." Journal of Educational Policy, 16.3 (2001), 249-263.
- Willis, Paul. Learning to Labor. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.
Cite this Book Review:
"Learning to Labor" and Class-Based Values in Education (2013, May 29) Retrieved February 25, 2021, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/learning-to-labor-and-class-based-values-in-education-153411/
""Learning to Labor" and Class-Based Values in Education" 29 May 2013. Web. 25 February. 2021. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/learning-to-labor-and-class-based-values-in-education-153411/>