Research Methods in Context: Experiments and Education

Experiments are the only method educational researchers can use if they wish observe the effects of one specific variable on student behaviour or outcomes (results).

Experiments are probably conducted more by schools themselves to test out things like new teaching techniques before rolling them out to the whole school, and there are also several examples of policy changes providing us with some examples of ‘natural experiments’, as when academies were introduced, they allowed researchers to compare the performance with LEA schools.

Examples of sociologists going into schools to conduct their own research are a lot rarer, and laboratory experiments on how social factors relate to educational performance are rarer still.

This post provides examples of all ‘four types’ of these experiment. It has been written primarily for students of A-level sociology studying the Methods in Context aspect of the specification.

Field Experiments within Schools by schools themselves

There are a number of variables schools might try to change in order to improve student behaviour, performance, or just to enhance student well-being.

Experimenting with setting and streaming, the gender mix of classrooms, different teaching techniques, online learning, or even the length of the lessons themselves are all possible focuses for small scale experiments.

I discuss this more in this post: experiments within schools.

One of the most extreme field experiments conducted recently was by a school in Devon, in which they subjected some of their students to a Chinese style of teaching, involving Chinese teachers, for a three month period. For more on this, please see this post.

Field Experiments by Sociologists within Schools

The classic field experiment relevant to education is Rosenthal and Jacobsnen’s Pygmalion in the Classroom, in which they set out to measure the impact of high teacher expectation on student performance.

They went into a school, and tested a sample of the students, keeping the actual results hidden from the teachers. They then told the teachers that a randomly selected sample of students were especially gifted (when in reality the students had a range of abilities).

The researchers then left the school, returned some months later and re-tested all the students. They found that the ones who teachers had been told were higher ability had improved at a faster rate than the rest.

The conclusion is that this supports the Self Fulfilling Prophecy Theory, however other repeat experiments have yielded different results.

For more details on this experiment, please see this post

Natural Experiments and Education

There have been two notable government policies which have introduced new school types in recent years: Academies and Free Schools.

We now have several years of data to compare the performance of both of these types of school with regular Local Education Authority schools, which is a natural experiment.

We could also do the same at a global level, by looking at the PISA league tables and then looking at what features the education systems of the top performing countries have in common, if any.

Coronavirus has also provided us with an interesting opportunity to measure the effects of online learning on education. Some recent initial studies report that poorer students are negatively impacted more than wealthier students.

Be careful discussing ‘natural experiments’ in an exam, as we are getting into ‘secondary data’ here rather than pure experiments, but there are links!

Laboratory Experiments relevant to education

There are a couple of interesting historical examples:

Charkin et al (1975) conducted research with a sample of 48 university studetns who each taught a lesson to a 10 year old boy.

One third of the university students were told they boy was highly motivated and intelligent

One third were told he was poorly motivated and with a low IQ

One third were given no information

Charkin et al videod the lessons and found that those in the high expectancy group made more eye contact and used more encouraging body language than the low expectancy group.

This seems to suggest support for labelling theory.

Mason (1973) looked at whether negative or positive expectations had a greater effect.

Teachers were given positive, negative or neutral reports on a pupil. The teachers then observerd video recordings of the pupil taking a test, watching to see if any errors were made, and then asked to predict the pupil’s end of year attainment.

Mason found that the negative reports had a much greater impact on the teachers’ expectations than the positive reports.

A much more recent experiment, aired by the BBC, showed how simply having a mobile phone on a desk lowers the test scores of students. For more details on this, please see this post.

(Source Webb et Al A-level Sociology, Book 1)

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Using Surveys to Research Education

Social Surveys are probably the most practical method researchers can use to research education.

Both teachers and students will be relatively used to filling in questionnaires as part of providing feedback to improve lessons and school procedures, and they are relatively quick to complete compared to interviews, so they should cause relatively little disruption to the school day.

Practical Factors

Surveys are a good choice of method if you wish to collect data from large samples in a short space of time, and because students (when they’re in class) are a ‘captive audience’ this could make this a very time efficient method for researching in schools.

If a researcher can gain access and consent they could, with the co-operation of a head teacher, get hundreds of students to complete the same questionnaire in multiple class in one day, or on smaller scale, a researcher could work with a few teachers to get a slightly smaller sample.

If the researcher puts a survey online, management might give teachers more flexibility when they get their students to complete the survey – say in one tutorial session over a two-week period.

A closed-question questionnaire might be a good method for researching teachers, given their tie constraints.

Parents would be the most difficult group to research using the questionnaire method, as they spend less time in-school, so gaining access to them would be difficult, this would probably have to be done via the school, who could direct parents to questionnaires via newsletters, or may parents evenings could be used by the researcher to administer surveys.

Gaining access

Because surveys are relatively quick for respondents to complete and it’s obvious from the outset what questions are being asked (which wouldn’t be the case with interviews), then it should be easy to convince schools to gain access to students, teachers or parents, compared to more intensive qualitative methods.

Theoretical Factors – Representativeness, validity and reliability.

Representativeness

Schools have ready made lists of students, which would include details of their gender, ethnicity, FSM and SEN status, address (as a proxy of broader class status) and prior educational achievement.

IF a researcher could thus gain access to such a sampling frame, it would be very easy for them to get a representative sample of different students, or to select only one type of student (all boys for example), depending on the purpose of their research.

However, getting access to such a list with all of the above details may not be possible because of GDPR (data protection) issues, unless researchers work with school staff who select a representative sample on their behalf.

Response rate

Biased samples might mean a low response rate for some types of respondent

Questionnaire research might suffer from selection bias – pro-school pupils are much more likely to take them seriously, but more rebellious students who do not like authority might either not fill in a questionnaire or deliberately lie out of spite against the system.

Working-class parents might be less willing to fill in a questionnaire truthfully about their parenting practices, whereas for middle-class parents this would be more a positive affirmation of their ‘good parenting’

Non-native English speakers might not be able to understand the questions if the questionnaire is not in English. Although today there might well be programmes online that can translate online questionnaires.

Validity

Because questions are written in advance, this does not allow for an in-depth exploration of respondents’ thoughts and feelings, hence validity may be limited for some topics.

Researchers also must be careful that concepts (such as cultural capital) are operationalised in such a way that children (especially young children) can understand them.

As mentioned above, the formal nature of questionnaires may not yield valid data from rebellious students – and the more formal and more test-like the conditions of completing a questionnaire, the more likely this is to be the case.

Reliability and making comparisons

Questionnaires do allow for excellent reliability, which is useful if findings are to be used to inform educational policy – it allows the research to be scaled up and generalised to more areas easily.

This is also a good method for exploring differences between students from different social class, ethnic backgrounds, as well as gender differences, which is a huge topic in the sociology of education  

Ethical issues and questionnaires

A big strength of questionnaires is that it is easy to make them anonymous and so to keep pupil, teacher and parent data confidential, so they’re good for exploring sensitive topics.

Cross National Comparison Research Task

Below is a task students of A-level sociology can usefully do to give them a feel for doing Cross National Research.

Select any one of the questions below and use the resources nuder the relevant headings below to explore these questions

  1. Why are some countries richer than others?
  2. Why do some countries have higher levels of gender equality than others?
  3. Why do some countries perform better in the PISA tests than others?
  4. Why are some countries happier than others?
  5. Why are some countries more peaceful than others?

Why are some countries richer than others?

This is a list of countries by Gross National Income per Capita, provided by the World Bank. The countries should appear listed in order.

Look at the top 10 countries, the bottom 10 countries, and look at ten in the middle.

NB you may need to screen out certain odd countries (such as those which are Islands with very small populations for example!)

Using your own knowledge, and further research on these countries if necessary, try to find out if any of the above three groups (top 10, middle 10, bottom 10) have anything in common.

Can you come up with theory for why rich countries are rich and poor countries are poor?

Why do some countries have higher levels of gender equality than others?

This link will take you the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, 2020.

Look at the top 10 countries, the bottom 10 countries, and look at ten in the middle.

NB you may need to screen out certain odd countries (such as those which are Islands with very small populations for example!)

Using your own knowledge, and further research on these countries if necessary, try to find out if any of the above three groups (top 10, middle 10, bottom 10) have anything in common.

Can you come up with theory for why some countries are more gender equal than others?

Cross National Comparisons

Cross National Comparisons involve researching a specific social institution, trend, or phenomenon in two or more countries using the same research methods, with the intention of comparing how this institution, trend, or phenomenon manifests in different socio-cultural settings.

Researchers might choose to focus on broad topics such as the education system, or a specific trend such as the suicide rate, and they may use analysis of already existing secondary data to do this, or conduct their own original primary research.

The aim may be to seek new explanations for similarities or differences or to gain a deeper understanding of social reality in different national contexts.

Examples of Cross-National Comparisons

Durkheim’s classic 1897 study of Suicide

Emile Durkheim’s study of Suicide was the first ever study to call itself a work of sociology. Durkheim wanted to find out whether the very personal act of suicide was shaped by social factors.

He used official statistics on a range of factors such as the religion of a country (Protestantism or Catholicism), the rapidity of economic growth, and the divorce rate (among other things) and then correlated these with the suicide rate.

He famously found that countries with lower rates of social integration and social regulation have higher suicide rates.

(NB this is a summary of one aspect of the study, it’s a bit more complex than this!)

He was famously criticised for many reasons, one of which was his failure to take account of the stats lacking validity.

Wilkinson and Picket (2010) The Spirit Level

In 2010 these two researchers looked at income equality in several different countries (the gap between the highest and lowest earners.

They found that a higher level of inequality was associated with all sorts of social and cultural problems such as:

  • Higher rates of imprisonment
  • Higher levels of obesity
  • Higher rates of suicide.

A 2014 study on immigration and gender equality

In 2014 Roder and Muhlau noted that there is considerable cross national variation in attitudes towards gender equality, and they were interested in exploring what happens to the attitudes of immigrants who move from a less gender egalitarian culture to one in which gender equality is more activity promoted.

They started off with the following hypothesis:

(a)Second- generation immigrants have a more egalitarian-gender ideology than the first generation and (b)the gender relations of the origin country exert less influence on the gender attitudes for second generation immigrants than for first generation immigrants.

To test the hypothesis the authors used data from the European Social Survey (2014), which is conducted in several European countries by structured interview every two years.

They defined ‘second-generation immigrant’ as anyone who was born in the country in which they presently lived but had at least one parent who was born abroad.

To measure gender egalitarian attitudes, they relied on two questions from the questionnaire, both being Likhert Scale questions, consisting of statements which people had to agree or disagree with on a 1 to 5 scale.

To measure gender equality in the origin country, researchers relied on indicators such as female representation in parliament, professional jobs, and income differences between men and women.

  • ‘When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to do a job than women’
  • ‘A woman should be prepared to cut down on her paid work for the sake of her family’

The hypothesis was broadly proved correct

The Limitations of Cross-National Studies  

Cross national studies tend to be very large in scope, and so can require considerable funding to carry out, securing funding can be a problem (an agency based in one country may be reluctant to fund research that takes place in multiple countries, so sources of funding are likely to be limited to international agencies, rather than national governments).

Data collected from official government sources (official statistics) may not be comparable – the categories used and the methods of collecting the data may differ from country to country.

Data will have to be translated, and there is a problem of this translation being insensitive to specific national and cultural contexts. Cross-national research helps to overcome assumptions we might make about life in other countries.  

The Scottish Exam Results: The real losers are last year’s cohort, and the next!

Now they’ve had a day to do some basic analysis of the Scottish exam results the newspapers have had a chance to put their spin on the story – and the narrative runs something like this:

First narrative – ‘Scottish pupils have had their teacher predicted grades lowered by the qualifications authority’.

Second narrative: – Poor Scottish pupils have had their teacher predicted grades lowered more than rich pupils.

Sources

Links to both the above are at the end of this article

This makes for a great story, but I think they might be misleading. As far as I can see, this year’s National Five Scottish students have done better than they would, on average, had they sat the exams.

If you compare the previous years’ results with the teacher predicted grades you get to see how exaggerated those predictions were…..

A comparison of previous year’s results with teacher predicted grades and the actual downward-adjusted grades

All of the data above is from the articles linked below – NB the blue column for the least and most deprived clusters is only 2019 data, A-C pass rate, and the exam results I’m looking are the National 5s, equivalent to the English GCSE.

What’s really going on?

  1. Teachers in Scotland grossly inflated the predicted grades of their pupils, by 10% compared to previous years on average.
  2. They exaggerated the results of the poorest students more than for rich students (bloody left-wing teachers that is!)
  3. The exam authorities modified the results downards, but the results received are still much better than the previous years, showing an improvement.
  4. The poorest students have improved dramatically.

Analysis

It’s highly unlikely that this bunch of students is hyper-successful compared to previous years, so thus unlikely we would have seen an increase in 10% points in the pass rate.

I think the real thing to keep in mind here is what really goes on in exams – pupils sit them, they are marked, and then stats magic is done on them so we end up with a similar amount of passes and grades distribution to the previous years – so it’s hard-wired into exams that little is going to change year on year.

That’s what we’re seeing here – the exam board adjusting to fit the results in with business as usual, but they’ve had to compromise with those optimistic teachers trying to game the system, and as a result, excuse the pun, this year’s Scottish students have done very well, especiallly the poor.

The students who should be angry are last year’s – they’ve lost out relative to this years, next year’s probably too, and those poor mugs actually had to sit their exams, and didn’t get four months off school!

This probably won’t be the way it’s spun in the media – it’s easy enough to find a few students a parents with individual axes to grind, against the overall trend of the 2020 cohort doing very nicely, thank you teachers!

Sources

The Scottish Sun

BBC News

Why do victims stay silent about Sexual Violence?

According to radical feminist theory, sexual violence is one of the main ways in which men control women in relationships, and in society more generally, and one of the main reasons violent men can maintain their control is because there is simply so much silence surrounding the issue – it’s not only that the victims are often silent, but also other people close to them are reluctant to discuss sexual violence, even when they know it is going on.

A recent book: The Anatomy of Silence explores why this is through 26 stories written by women who have been victims of Sexual Violence, and why they were silent about their experience.

The book covers several different examples of sexual violence, from child-abuse, through to rape on college campuses, and includes experiences from men as well as women.

The book seems very radical in its approach (compared to the usual silence around the issue) and criticises the #MeToo movement for highlighting high profile, celebrity cases of sexual violence, rather than the everyday violence experienced by ordinary people, and for failing to address what needs to be done to prevent sexual violence in the future.

The main focus of the book seems to be the problem of silence around domestic violence – with those close to the victims often being the ones to silence them, out of shame, whether it’s their mothers or the university as an institution not wanting to acknowledge the extent of the problem for fear of their reputation.

There is also a focus on both men and women together having to take more responsibility to tackle the culture of ‘toxic masculinity’ and to call out friends, family members and colleagues more for acts of what you might call ‘every day sexism’.

A good example of Feminist research methods

  • It is qualitative in-depth research, which gives readers insight into the feelings, the emotional experiences of victims.
  • The research comes from the respondents, it is victim-led. NB In the blog post linked above, the editor of the stories is only mentioned briefly, write at the end of the article.
  • The research is overtly political, aimed at empowering silenced victims.
  • Also note the clever use of language – it’s called ‘Violence’ not ‘domestic abuse’, the later sounds a little softer.

The PISA Global Education Tests – Arguments for and Against

The PISA international assessments are part of the globalisation of education. The OECD (which runs the tests) claims there are benefits to having a global system of assessment because we can learn what the best educational practices are and apply them globally. However, critics argue that these tests could be doing more harm than good, by focusing on a narrow range of educational outcomes, which reflect the biases of Western educationalists.

The PISA international assessments are part of the globalisation of education. The OECD (which runs the tests) claims there are benefits to having a global system of assessment because we can learn what the best educational practices are and apply them globally. However, critics argue that these tests could be doing more harm than good, by focusing on a narrow range of educational outcomes, which reflect the biases of Western educationalists.

What are the PISA tests?

The PISA Tests are sat by a random sample of 15 year old students every three years, and measure their ability in reading, mathematics and science. More than 3 million students in over 90 countries have participated in the PISA tests since they started in the year 2000, with the latest round being in 2018, the next will be in 2021.

The PISA Tests aim to assess whether what students have learned in school can be applied to real life situations, focusing on their ability to reason and communicate rather than factual recall.

PISA stands for the ‘Programme of International Student Assessment and is run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. An overview of the PISA programme and summary of the 2018 results can be found on the PISA website here.

Countries volunteer to take part in the PISA tests and if a country isn’t equipped to conduct the test country-wide, then regions of that country can participate instead.

If a country volunteers to participate, then individual schools are selected to represent all 15 year olds, and the individual students who are to sit the tests are then randomly selected from within those schools.

Students take the test in their native language, and the tests involve interpreting texts, solving problems and using their reasoning skills.

According to the video below, the primary aim of PISA isn’t to rank countries next to each other, although this is what tends to catch the headlines, rather it is about assessing how successfully students are being equipped for further study and work , and about collecting data to put together a picture of what the most effective education systems look like.

PISA’s positive spin on ‘PISA’.

Examples of PISA test questions

You can find some examples of the PISA test questions on the PISA web site here.

These questions really are worth having a look. The ‘reading’ questions really do challenge students to read thoroughly and think about their answers, and the maths questions all seem to be applied to real-world circumstances.

An overview of the 2018 PISA Results

Top ranked countries

Selected regions in China (not all regions do the tests!) came out on top, with a mean score in all tests of 555, closely followed by 3 other wealthy Asian city-states, then Estonia, Canada and Finland. Overall, there’s not too much of a mix at the top end – it’s either Asian city or Euro-American-Australian!

Bottom ranked countries

Much more of a mix down at the bottom: The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Argentina stand out for me, either due to large population size or to just surprise due to their having quite a high level of development!

Problems with the PISA tests

This excellent (and short) 2019 article in The Conversation outlines seven problems with PISA tests, among which it mentions that economic and cultural factors in some countries can explain a of the difference in test results – poverty may account for up to 50% of the difference, for example,

It also mentions that the sampling of schools may bias the results – ‘indiginous’ schools which have higher SEN rates are not included in Canada’s sample, for example, which could boost it up to near the top.

This 2019 Washington Post article makes several main criticisms of the PISA tests, all based on a lot of research by serious academics. The gist of these criticisms are that the tests are very narrow – focusing on English, maths and science, and this narrow agenda reflects the biases of the rich people who have mainly been involved with designing them.

Despite their claims that the tests are universally applicable, they are not: the real world challenges faced by students in poorer countries probably aren’t being assessed by these maths/ english and science tests, they are probably more appropriate to students in wealthier countries.

Why do pupils in some countries get better PISA test scores than others?

Do European countries do well simply because the tests have been designed for them? And do the students in countries such as Saudi Arabia do worse because the tests aren’t culturally relevant (too narrow)?

Or is there at least some validity to these tests and then real underlying factors which might explain differences in student peformance?

Do those countries/ regions at the top end of the scale have features in common? Do their students perform well because of cultural factors such as parents valuing education, or economic factors because of the degree of equality, lack of poverty? Or is it because of the quality of education systems and amount of resources or way the schools are organised?

This is definitely something worth exploring, and it’s something I’d recommend all students think about doing.

You can do so by using either the individual snapshots of countries from PISA, or simply by doing your own independent research on the education systems of those countries at the top end of the league tables.

Are the PISA tests damaging education?

This letter, written in 2014 by education academics and published in The Guardian outlines several concerns about the negative consequences of the PISA testing regime. Some of these concerns include:

  • It has increased the pressure on national governments to rise up the rankings, which can increase the amount of testing (rather than education).
  • It encourages countries to focus on a narrow range of quantitative measures in mathematics, science and English rather than a broader range of qualitative educational goals.
  • It encourages a focus on a three-year improvement cycle, rather than longer term development.
  • ‘Work readiness’ is not the main aim of education in some countries, yet this is what the PISA tests are designed to assess.
  • PISA has no mandate in countries, it has just ‘imposed itself on them’.
  • It opens the doors to private companies to sell ‘education improvement’ products based on PISA findings.

Sources

Clapping for the NHS – Liquidarity, not Solidarity?

It’s quite a nice feeling heading outside at 20.00 every Thursday and banging on a saucepan for 5 minutes to show support for the NHS.

And I’ve even had the chance to chat with some neighbours who I never even talked to before the lockdown, despite having live where I’m living for almost two years.

Thinking sociologically about the weekly ‘national clap for the NHS’, it’s tempting to think of it as an example of a practice which reinforces social integration: a lot of people coming together to say ‘thank you’ to ‘front line workers’ in unison, at both the local and national level.

You certainly get this feeling if you watch the national clap on Television: there’s a five minute slot on Thursdays devoted to it, where certain streets are focused on, and there is a certain feeling of ‘belonging’ to the local and national during the event, I can’t deny it.

Solidarity, but not as we know it?

HOWEVER, I can’t quite bring myself to think of this as an example of us acting in solidarity because of the extremely passive, almost impotent nature of the event.

A I understand it solidarity defines ‘working towards a shared goal’ in the sense of building a better society, but I don’t think that describes what we’re celebrating when we clap for front-line workers.

Those Front Line Workers aren’t really working to build a better society, they’re just trying to prevent a melt down, they’re trying to prevent people from dying and from the NHS being overwhelmed, and just to ‘keep essential services ticking over’.

For the majority of us, our role in this crisis is to ‘stay home and protect the NHS’. We have no clarity over when this crisis is going to end, no certainty over how we’re going to come of Lockdown, and no agreement over what the ‘best way forwards’ is through summer and autumn.

In short, there’s nothing positive and long term for us to unite around, only the short-term agreement around saving lives and staying in.

Also, there is no discussion of what comes next – this is blanked in the media, so we have this looming uncertainty.

Liquidarity, my new concept!

I want to call the national clap for the NHS ‘liquidarity’ after Bauman’s concept of Liquid Modernity. Yes, we are coming together, but it’s as if this national clap is the ONLY sense of national routine we have left, there is nothing else, no clarity ATM about the way out.

Liquidarity = a shared expressive act in a response to shared fear and uncertainty, where there is no clear underlying set of principles or clear long term goal which unites people.

NB that’s very much a first thoughts definition, just working it through.

I’m sure once we start hear proposals for a staged way out of Lockdown and the social changes that are going to come in to deal with a post-corona age, we’ll be back to the same old tensions and divisions again.

It’s all very well and good clapping for the NHS, but if these workers really are facing higher levels of risk, maybe a pay rise is in order? I wonder how many people would put their tax money where their hands are for one minute every Thursday? And what happens if Brexit is delayed for years because of Corona fall-out, are Brexiteers just going to suck that up through the early 2020s?

In the meantime, let’s enjoy the national clap, it’s a nice enough distraction from all the uncertainty, and I’m certainly not going to argue that front line workers don’t deserve some recognition.

The Celebrity Boat Race – Screamingly Upper Middle Class

The over-representation of the upper middle classes in charity sporting events

I was unfortunate enough to catch an A BBC Breakfast item on the celebrity boat race for Sports Relief on Wednesday.

This featured Louis Minchin interviewing some other celebrities and James Cracknell about the upcoming charity boat race in which four teams from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky will be competing to raise money for mental health charities.

An mostly upper middle class celebrity love-in…

Now I know rowing is traditionally associated with independent schools, as are media celebrities, and I detected a distinct upper middle class twang going around the self-congratulatory interviews. This made me wonder what the class background of the boat race celebs was.

Given that 6-7% of the population is independently schooled, I did a quick trawl to figure out how over-represented (if at all) the upper middle classes are in this event.

A note on the methods

I simply looked up the celebs on Wikipedia, and about half had information about their schooling, in one case (Rachel Parris) the school had information on her.

NB there are some data gaps below, and I stopped at 50% as I’ve only got so many hours in the day….

Team BBC – at least 33% Independently schooled, 4* over-represented compared to the national average.

  • Louise Minchin –  privately not educated at St Mary’s School, Ascot
  • Steve Backshall – unknown, but brought up in a smallholding in Bagshot, Surrey which suggests a reasonably wealthy background
  • Maya Jama – educated at Cotham school (not independent)
  • Michael Stevenson – unknown
  • Jay Blades – probably not privately educated, as from Hackney
  • Rachel Parris – independently educated at Loughborough selective school

Team ITV – probably 50% privately educated, or about 8* over-represented

  • Matt Evers – don’t know (N/B American)  
  • Colson Smith – don’t know
  • Isabel Hodgins – independently educated at the Sylvia Young Theatre School
  • Dr Ranj Singh – don’t know
  • Andrea Mclean – probably independently educated, brought up in Trinidad and Tobago
  • Romilly Weeks  – she’s a Royal Correspondent and lives in London, so almost certainly independently educated.

Analysis – actually not bad social class representation, for the media.

I’d had enough of digging after 12 celebs, so I’m basing this on a 50% sample.

  • Approximately 45% of the celebs are independently educated, which means the independently schooled are about 7* over-represented compared to what they should be.
  • Having said that, the independently schooled make up more than 60% of media professionals so this boat race line up is actually MORE representative of the working classes than might be expected.
  • Based on my sample ALL the white women have been independently educated. Minority women and men are more likely to (probably) be from a working class background).

I’ve rounded up as the two British Olympic rowers are also independently schooled: James Cracknell and Helen Glover (in fairness on a sports scholarship).

Jame Cracknell – An upper middle class jaw jaw?

Over to you for some further research

NB, over to you if you want to do some further research, I’ve included the C4 and Sky teams below. I’d be surprised if they didn’t have similar percentages.

Let me know in the comments if these findings are generalisable!

Team Channel 4

  • Jamie Laing
  • Cathy Newman
  • Chelsee Healey
  • Amanda Byram
  • Tom Read Wilson
  • Ed Jackson

Team Sky

  • Dermot Murnaghan
  • Natalie Pinkham
  • Hayley McQueen
  • Lloyd Griffith
  • Nazaneen Ghaffar
  • Carl Froch

Are Children Today Too Controlled? Paranoid Parenting

A second set of criticisms of the March of Progress View and The Child Centred Society is that children’s lives are now too controlled, that children have too little freedom, and that children are effectively oppressed by adults.

Conflict theories argue that many laws introduced in the name of ‘child protection’ are really about the oppression and control of children. Dianna Gittins uses the term ‘Age Patriarchy’ to refer to adult domination over children. Adult control over children takes a number of forms –

Control over resources – Labour laws and compulsory schooling make children financially dependent on adults. Shulamith Firestone sees protection from paid work as forcibly segregating children, making them powerless and dependent.

– Control over children’s space – There has been an increase in surveillance of children in public spaces. Take school as an example – Children are monitored more than ever through electronic registration systems, constant testing and nearly every school in the UK has surveillance cameras, with up to 10% of them having them in the toilets. Children are even more controlled in terms of their journey to and from school – In 1971 80% of 7-8 year olds when to school on their own, this had reduced to 10% by 1990.

– Control over children’s time – Parents restricts children through daily and weekly routines. Children today are given less time to themselves, with parents scheduling in more activities for them to do in evenings and weekends.

– Control over children’s bodies – Parents control how children dress and how they interact physically with other children and over their own bodies (don’t pick your nose, don’t slouch etc.).

– Evidence that children childhood as oppressive comes from the strategies they use to resist the status of child and the strategies that go with it. Two of these strategies are ‘acting up’ and ‘acting down’. Acting up is where a child acts older than they are in order to rebel. Acting down is where a child acts younger than they are as an act of rebellion.