Monday, 17 December 2012

Class in the classroom

In the world of education bollock-speak will go to convoluted lengths to avoid any mission-creep into the dangerous waters of politics - and  the elephant in the corner is class. Labour's recent dubious dablings  on the subject do not help in this.

At schools we will talk at length about the issues facing 'EAL' (that's English-as-an-alternative-language) pupils. But we all know that we aren't really talking about the offspring of diplomatic personnel or multinational managerial staff  posted in this country for a few years. We mean the children of immigrants living in inner cities.  Or we talk of 'targeted micro-populations' of underachievers - at the top of which list is 'White British. But we all know that we are not talking about the offspring of Guardian reading Merlot-sipping media types in Hampstead. We mean the white working class.

Ironically those stereotypical characteristics of the demonized chav: low aspirations; lack of respect for educational achievement; a deeply ingrained suspicion of both authority and middle-class do-gooders -  perhaps just reflect a slightly longer experience of British capitalism than the still optimistic hopes of immigrant communities. But as the present economic crisis deepens so does this experience  - and so the attitudes converge. Because that's how class trumps everything else.

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