Tagged: Education

The Rising Burden of Affording College and Undermatching

I recently came across an article on my Facebook feed about high school senior Ronald Nelson, who was accepted into all 8 ivy league colleges (among other highly competitive schools). The article discussed how, despite this amazing opportunity for Nelson to attend arguably one of the better colleges in the nation, he ultimately chose to attend University of Alabama (which is still a decent school). According to Business Insider, “After some thought and consideration of all the schools’ offers, Nelson decided...

Unqualified Teachers: Why Our Young People Deserve Better

According to shadow education secretary Tristam Hunt, there are currently 17,100 unqualified teachers, teaching more than 400,000 of our children, in state funded schools. I was one of them. In 2007, burnt out from years working in the care sector, I decided it was time for a change. I needed some hope – to feel I was making a difference. I responded to an advert for a job as a Lesson Cover Supervisor in a local secondary school in my...

In Defense of Trigger Warnings (… as a Practice, not a Policy)

Over the past few months, numerous publications have discussed – and mostly: dismissed – the trend to incorporate so-called trigger warnings into the college classroom and syllabus. Trigger warnings have become a standard practice for articles in feminist blogs and other online media that discuss incidences of violence, sexual assault and that may contain other potentially ‘triggering’ material, with the purpose of giving readers a way to opt-out of exposing themselves to said material. As some college professors have started...

The Praxis of Sexual Violence Prevention: Lessons from the White House

On Tuesday the White House launched its new campaign to address and prevent the epidemic of sexual violence against women on college campuses in the US.  The campaign, 1 is 2 Many, includes a blog, an informational website with a major report, Not Alone, and a PSA aimed at men and boys.  The launch of the campaign has been largely celebrated among the numerous sexual and domestic violence agencies across the country as a much needed step toward creating real...

Alternative to the school-to-prison pipeline

In my last post I discussed the role the school-to-prison pipeline plays in increasing the gap in minority education. The consequences of zero tolerance school policies are many including stigmatization, dropping out of school, and/or getting a juvenile record. Some schools have begun to change their responses to deviance in schools by going away from zero tolerance policies and towards restorative justice models. Restorative justice is a proactive approach requiring wholesale cultural change in the punishment orientation of the school...

The School-to-Prison Pipeline and the Minority Educational Gap

In a recent Sociology Lens post, Markus Gerke detailed the problem associated with President Obama’s rhetoric of individual responsibility for increasing opportunities for Latino and Black men. One component to President Obama’s initiative is to increase educational opportunities for these populations and Gerke correctly notes that the focus on individual responsibility ignores the structural barriers that limit these populations. Research suggests that a major factor in the educational achievement gap is the presence of the school-to-prison pipeline and the punishment...

Obama's Initiative for Young Men of Color & the Rhetoric of Individual Responsibility

A few weeks ago, President Obama announced a new initiative designed to increase opportunities for young Black and Latino men. Acknowledging that Black and Latino men lag behind other groups in educational achievement and employment, while outnumbering white men in jails and prisons, at first glance, the President’s “My Brother’s Keeper” campaign seems like a much needed and timely project. However, when examining Obama’s rhetoric more closely, the initiative falls short of addressing the root causes and structural reasons for...

The Myth of the 'Skills Gap' and the Attack on (Higher) Education

In January, President Obama became the latest in a long list of politicians and high profile public figures in taking a shot at academic disciplines perceived to be ‘useless’ from a labor market perspective. Talking about manufacturing and job training, Obama (who has since apologized for his remarks) said: “I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” This attack on disciplines, fields and degrees...

"Normative" Marriage in the Fourth Grade Classroom

When I picked my friend’s nine year old daughter up from school last week the first thing she said to me was, “We had to do something really weird in class today.  The teacher paired all the girls with a boy and we had to be a married couple.” It turns out the teacher was having her students work on writing dialogue and since it was right before Valentine’s Day she thought it would be cute for them to write...

Fugue as Method: Episode 2 – How Scholars Have Applied a Fugal Method

Episode 2 “When I am growing up…we girls, big and little, have at our command four languages to express desire before all that is left for us is sighs and moans: French for secret missives; Arabic for our stifled aspirations towards God-the-Father, the God of the religions of the Book; Lybico-Berber which takes us back to the pagan idols-mother-gods-of pre-Islamic Mecca.  The fourth language, for all females, young or old, cloistered or half-emancipated remains that of the body” (Djebar 1985,...

Teaching Gender and Feminism as a Male-Identified Instructor

My colleague Cliff Leek elsewhere has recently talked about the tension, struggles and challenges of being an ally. Those of us located on the ‘privilege’ side of different axes of inequality and oppression (like race, class and gender) face the challenge of how to become (and stay) active and effective allies without reinforcing the very inequalities we are trying to fight, and trying to speak truth to power without claiming to speak for the movements we are aligned with. As...

The Sociology Classroom: Critical, Transformative, Radical? Part 3 of 3. Radical Pedagogy & Practice

In the first part of this series, I asked whether the sociology classroom can be a space of critical or radical pedagogy and discussed the theories behind Freirean learner-centered approaches to radical pedagogy. In my second article , I laid out some critiques of these models brought forward by scholars equally committed to critical sociology and radical analyses. Despite these critical voices though, there is certainly good reason for radical scholars to have their pedagogy reflect their intellectual commitments. Today’s...

The Sociology Classroom: Critical, Transformative, Radical? Part 2 of 3. Problems with Learner-Centered Models

I have previously written about whether the sociology classroom can be a space of critical or radical pedagogy and how critical research agendas should be reflected in sociological pedagogy. Most authors experimenting with critical pedagogy rely on Freirean conceptions of student-centered learning that seek to eliminate teacher-student hierarchies and offer students the change to take ownership of their education by involving them in peer-grading, course design and instruction. However, scholars equally committed to critical sociology and radical analyses have critique...

Social Class, Social Mobility and English Elite Universities

Elizabeth M. Lee’s article Elite Colleges and Socioeconomic Status (Lee, 2013) in September’s Sociology Compass is a sophisticated exploration of why elite colleges’ demographics remain “largely homogenous across generations”. The UK also exhibits this, seemingly, symptom of a malfunctioning meritocracy. Former Prime Minister Sir John Major described Britain’s lack of social mobility as “truly shocking” and the current Foreign Secretary called it “disturbing” . It’s easy to see why; the upper echelons of our politics and culture are dominated by...

The Sociology Classroom: Critical, Transformative, Radical? Part 1 in a Series.

A number of sociologists understand their work as being part of a radical or transformative project: They are committed to empowering the marginalized or are engaged in challenging hegemony, they work within the tradition of radical theoretical approaches such as Marxist, feminist, or critical race theory, and understand their work as a contribution to laying foundations for a more just, equal and democratic society. However, it is not often not clear what role the commitment to radical social thought –...

Want to Help Marginalized Students Improve in Schools? Stop “Stop and Frisk” (and other punitive practices, too).

Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a previous ruling that had determined that New York City’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” practice constituted a civil rights violation, thereby placing any reforms (or the outright abolition of “Stop and Frisk”) on hold. In addition to being a highly ineffective police strategy, extremely questionable from a civil liberties perspective and undeniably a case of racial profiling, this policy might also impact marginalized students’ educational outcomes. Sociological research suggests that...