Education and Social Class

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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We grow up in the shadow of our parents, only if we could decide our social classes. Growing up under your parents you fall into their category which labels you either high, middle, or low social class. Upper class students have plenty of opportunities to get a better and broader education. Plenty of people today believe someone in a higher class will most likely have a better education than a lower or middle class person because high class people have the ability to pay for better schooling while lower and middle class people are provided with public schooling.

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Public schooling isn’t bad but their curriculum is not as good as private schools. Students who attend private schools get a more challenging curriculum than public schools because they are paying for a better quality education. Social classes affects our expectation of education but formal education is not the only path to success.

Our experience of social class helps to define or shape our expectations for education because depending on what class you are in you already know what to expect. A high class person will expect the best schooling while a middle class person will expect the average public school. Students who are in a higher social class also have the ability to pay for tutoring services if needed, which gives them the opportunity for extra help to improve their grades. The power that a person of higher class has is very strong, they have the ability to decide whether they would like to attend those top expensive schools while a middle or lower class may not have the same options, or options at all. The limits between social class and education is how society tells people in the lower class group, you need money to have a finer education which causes them into believing this. The reality is that the government does not want to provide for the less fortunate. In the article “The Sanctuary Of School”, Lynda Barry states “ we are told in a thousand ways that not only are public schools not important, but that the children who attend them, the children who need most are not important either( Barry 860).” This quote proves how much the government can be very nonchalant about public schools and the students in them. It verifies the theory that if you do not have money, then you will not have the same amount of opportunities or resources that a wealthy person might have. Barry also states “children must fend for themselves( Barry 860)” this shows how the world is so shallow towards people in the lower class all because they aren’t gifted with high class privilege. The dangers in this relationship causes many students to drop out of school and survive off of minimum waged jobs. While some people have made the most out of minimum waged jobs, it causes them to have to work harder than someone with a career.

For years I was told by plenty of teachers “without a degree it’s hard to live in this world today because of how expensive it is”. This statement is not exactly true because a formal education isn’t the only path to success. Mike Rose’s uncle, Joe Meraglio, dropped out of school when he was in the ninth grade. The article states“One of my mother’s brothers, Joe Meraglio, left school in the ninth grade to work for the pennsylvania Railroad. From there he joined the Navy, returned to the railroad, which was already in decline, and eventually joined his older brother at General Motors where, over a 33-year career, he moved from working on the assembly line to supervising the paint-and-body department. (Rose 1036).” Mike Rose’s uncle did not have much of an education, but still had a 33 year career in General Motors (Rose 1036). He also got a promotion in his job becoming a supervisor. Though Joe Meraglio did not have an education, he was still able to make something of himself. A collection of people have succeeded in life without furthering their education , there are many ways to be successful in life without having a formal education beyond what high school has to offer. While some people choose to go to trade schools and take classes that certify them for particular jobs, others maintain their positions in jobs that are seen as less than and develop the same skills that a college education or anything equivalent might offer.

One situation that Mike Rose talks about, relates to a personal experience that I had to watch my mother go through. Rose explains in “Blue-Collar Brilliance” that his mother “ Shaped her adult identity as a waitress in coffee shops and family restaurants (Rose 1033).” Rose’s mother quit school in the seventh grade to help raise her brothers and sisters (Rose 1035). My mother relates to Rose’s mother’s lifestyle except for the fact that my mother had the opportunity to graduate high school. My mother didn’t further her education by going to college but she gained skills from her casino job at the Taj mahal in Atlantic City New jersey. She received different type of skills such as working diligently, communications, goal oriented,manual and physical labor. Most people might look at my mother and Mike Rose’s mother as two uneducated women, however they have not only succeeded as parents but they gained lots of different skills and applied them towards their everyday lives. For example, Mike Rose’s mother had great communication skills, due to her working in a restaurant and serving people every day, Mrs. Rose knew how to read the customers at the dinner and knew when they were in a good or bad mood. By her learning this skill she use to inform the cook how to prepare their food and timing. Just like Mike Rose’s mother, my mother gained the skill of communication, where she was constantly around people of different ethnicities and backgrounds. The skills my mother and Rose’s gained can’t be taught by formal education you learn them as time and experience goes on. Though some may argue against the notion that having an education is not the only way to succeed, I can counter argue that with both the personal narrative of author Mike Rose and my own which correlate heavily.

We are taught that education is the key to success, but how does a person receive an education when the government will not make sure that everyone is starting from fair grounds. What society wants us to believe is that you can only be successful with an education and being street smart or assertive is not enough. Not only does social class affect how we live but it affects our education status. This unhealthy relationship between social class and education causes many students of all ages to get unfair treatment. While some may say that there is no difference between being rich and being poor, there clearly is a very big difference. Being poor means you have to work harder and go through many obstacles that wealthy students don’t have to go through at all. Also society tells you that you have to go to school to be smart but there are many ways to learn other than being taught in school. Some things that should be taught in school are not and unwealthy people have to learn these things on there own; things such as, how to write a check, file taxes, or apply to college. Going through these challenges ultimately make middle and lower class students more intimidated by life and may cause them to never be able to reach their full potential. I believe that it is okay to not go to school and gain personal experiences that some institutions may not be able to teach you, That doesn’t mean waste your time and life on trying to find personal experience it just shows School isn’t for everyone. Either way social class will always affect the education of high, middle and low class students for the rest of our entire lives.

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Education and Social Class. (2022, Feb 19). Retrieved from