Pondering class among children

As I read and write about social class and education in the United States, I’m working among several overlapping questions:

  • In the new global economy, what does social class look like? How does class intersect with gender and race?
  • How can we better understand the psycho-social processes of social mobility? We place deep cultural faith in the power of public schools to level playing fields, yet we know that movement “up” to social spaces more comfortable and more secure than one’s parents is still relatively rare.  Proponents of higher academic standards would have us believe that economic security awaits all those who score well on tests, as if all that stands between the economic vulnerability of poor and working class families and eventual middle-class comfort is knowing more of what can be tested in school.
  •  How might activating autobiographical knowledge of teachers’ own class background become part of teacher education, so that teachers work with poor and working class children is informed by much more than vague cultural trust that hard work in school will be rewarded?
  • What might schools do, beginning very early, to shape educational aspirations among those who otherwise are unlikely to see college as an option for them?

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