This appeared on the BBC news site today in the education section.
And once again we’re reminded of the elitist attitudes of some university professors, doctors, lecturers with regard to the intelligence or as they would have people believe, the lack thereof of the working classes.
Of course we all know their opinions aren’t worth the air they’ve expended to utter them. Simply because these type of people aren’t professional psychologists, they are simply expressing their bigoted right wing "nurture over nature" academic views as yet one more way of defending the class discrimination that still goes on in UK universities at all levels from application to graduation.
Charlton’s view is yet more protection of the status quo and his idea of academia. And he seems so caught up in his idea that the upper classes are more intelligent, that responses stating the logic of cause & effect, like that from Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, seem to be something he can’t absorb or is unwilling to acknowledge.
Sally Hunt said: "It should come as little surprise that people who enjoy a more privileged upbringing have a better start in life.”
Exactly! And I’m reminded of a research project on class perceptions that was carried out in England almost 20 years ago.
One part of the project interviewed a societal cross-section of 12 year old girls to identify how they viewed themselves and what expectations they had.
One indicator was the following simple question “Can you ride a horse?”
Now, in well-off middle and upper class areas the girls at private and boarding schools invariably answered “Yes, I can” or “Yes, but I’m not very good at it” or “Yes, but I don’t really like it” or “I don’t know, because I haven’t tried yet” or "I'm sure I'll be able to when I try" and other similar responses, but none of them answered “No”. Because clearly they had been given the chance to try horse riding and could ride. Or clearly expected that they would be able to try it in the near future. Note the use of the word “yet” in the last response.
In less well off mixed middle and working class areas school girls at comprehensive state schools responded invariably with “I don’t know” or ”I’ve never tried” or “Yes” or “No” With no clear future expectations identified either way, but rather a clear ambiguity amongst the different social/class types of the respondents, who obviously had varying expectations of what they might or might not be likely to achieve or try in the future.
Then finally they asked school girls at comprehensive schools in poor working class inner city areas. And now they found, as they had expected from the outset, that there was now absolutely no ambiguity whatsoever. All the girls simply assumed based on their own perceptions of their class and social situation, as well as the perceptions of others about their class and social situation, that horse riding was something that wasn’t even considered and dismissed as an impossibility for them, it was even lower than that, it wasn’t even given a second’s thought. And so close to a 100% of the girls, when asked, “Can you ride a horse?” simply and in a matter-of-fact manner answered, “No”.
The fundamental fact is this: that denial of access to something doesn't mean you're no good at it, or not suited to it, mentally or physically, it simply means you haven't even been given the chance to try it.