Working class children need to try to be more middle class to get on!

(371 Posts)
rollonthesummer Mon 03-Mar-14 09:53:52

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10671048/Working-class-children-must-learn-to-be-middle-class-to-get-on-in-life-government-advisor-says.html

MerryMarigold Mon 03-Mar-14 09:58:01

The reason I didn't apply to the top 2 universities was because I didn't think I'd fit in. But I didn't WANT to fit in. I think private schools train kids to fit in and toe the line, but often if you don't have this background you want to rebel and be different. The more intelligent, often the more rebellious too.

columngollum Mon 03-Mar-14 10:02:20

It's a category mistake.

Of course if working class children want to become curators at the British Museum or editors of Private Eye then they have to have the right kind of education. But if they want to run a fleet of taxis or be plumbers, then visits to the museum are going to be a waste of time. And we need taxis and plumbing!

Some middle class people need to think a bit more about what they're saying before they attempt some half-assed brainwashing of the whole country!

MerryMarigold Mon 03-Mar-14 10:08:14

Yes, I think it's the assumption that this is 'the best way to be' so we should all try to be it, which frustrates the daylights out of me.

ReallyTired Mon 03-Mar-14 10:08:51

Gove has said the unsayable, but I do believe that he is right this time. There are children in dd's class whose working class accent is so broad that they practically need speech and language therapy. There is nothing wrong with regional accents, but everything wrong with lazy speech where children fail to pronounce their vowels property. I can see poor pronouncation entering dd's speech. For example she misspelt water as "worer" . It is going to be hard for children with incomprendible thick accents to get middle class jobs where good communication skills are essential.

Our school has dropped all the nice things like school plays or music in an attempt to get children up to better academic standards. I feel that OFSTED need to look at wider curriculum.

MerryMarigold Mon 03-Mar-14 10:09:22

What would be the advantage anyway. A few working class kids, that have basically been turned into MC private school kids with a few lessons? Who will probably become ashamed of their backgrounds, and want to disassociate themselves. I don't see the point, really.

Ubik1 Mon 03-Mar-14 10:09:55

I agree. I was a sarf London bird with accent and manners to match. At A Level I was predicted CDD. I had friends with much more middle class accents, friends whose parents were academics etc. they were predicted higher grades. I ended up with AAB. Had to take a year out to actually apply to university, received no guidance about application/subject but managed it anyway.

My advice is to improve accent, adopt swishy hair if you want to be taken seriously. At work I learned to moderate my accent - I barely have one now.

As for plumbers etc lots of people quite happy doing that but it is a tremendous waste of talent if wc children are not supported to achieve and contribute to traditional mc professions.

Sadly no one seems to give a shit about that anymore apart from some overworked teachers.

MerryMarigold Mon 03-Mar-14 10:11:19

grin at worer. We take 'war bolls' to school every day! (I don't mind, it makes me laugh). I would love to see a Prime Minister who asked for a 'glass of war'.

Slipshodsibyl Mon 03-Mar-14 10:11:34

There are very many people from working class backgrounds who have succeeded materially in life. They are not generally ashamed of their backgrounds. Why should they be?

MerryMarigold Mon 03-Mar-14 10:12:46

I have a friend who has a Phd in Engineering, had a good job, and gave it up to be a plumber. He earns more and is his own boss. Loves it.

ReallyTired Mon 03-Mar-14 10:13:04
MerryMarigold Mon 03-Mar-14 10:13:48

Slipshodsibyl, they shouldn't be ashamed. But if they need to change into something they are not, and their parents are not, just to 'succeed', the implication is that they should be ashamed.

Ubik1 Mon 03-Mar-14 10:14:36

Imagine them crashing in with their thick regional accents shock

columngollum Mon 03-Mar-14 10:16:31

I don't think the regional accent argument is as popular today as it once was. All kinds of accents are on the BBC these days. Once upon a time the BBC only used one accent. If you have a fact-based job and you can relay the facts as necessary then it doesn't matter what your accent is like. If you're the head of policy development and your job entails meeting people from all over the country all day, then of course you have to speak clearly. But nobody is going to tell you which accent to use. You can speak perfectly clearly in a regional accent, as the BBC has now discovered.

ReallyTired Mon 03-Mar-14 10:19:38

The Essex children are having elecution lessons to help them with their spelling and literacy. None of the children have lost their accents. There is a world of difference between sloppy speech and a regional accent. I don't believe that the essex children or their parents feel ashamed. They are learning the difference between standard English and broad Essex. Having a regional accent does not hold someone back. Having imcomprehensive speech is a major handicap in life.

Greythorne Mon 03-Mar-14 10:29:33

I am Northern working class.
Mum left school at 15.
Dad went to day release to get an education, worked as a skilled engineer.

I was academically able, just like both my parents. Different generation, different times meant I stayed at school! did well in A levels, went to Oxford, got a great degree and work in a high flying world. Travel all over the world for work, make presentations in from of hundreds of people, manage a large team.

I somewhat consciously and somewhat unconsciously rubbed off the edges of my Northern vowels. Abandoned the obvious. Northern vocab long ago.

But how delighted does it make me feel when I read the myriad MN threads about how horrid it is to hear someone say "toilet" and "pardon" and "settee" and "lounge"? Then I realize that people do look down on me and my parents and that all the polishing of my accent in the world will not change the fact that when I say the words of my youth, the words my family of course still use, half the population, and the half that considers itself a cut above the rest, no less, cringes inwardly?

Until that changes, Gove has a point. Sadly. Very sadly.

Lancelottie Mon 03-Mar-14 10:40:20

adopt swishy hair if you want to be taken seriously

Uh oh. You mean DCs' mad ginger afro style might count against them?

columngollum Mon 03-Mar-14 10:41:09

Isn't vocabulary a different subject?

If you're a curator at the V&A and you're showing a group of visitors a Victorian Water Closet then you have to refer to it as a water closet (because that's what it is.) But you can still follow that with, "excuse me, I need to go to the toilet."

Provided that you are aware of a broad range of words you can still choose which word to use on which occasion. (That's part of the fitting in debate.)

Anatana Mon 03-Mar-14 11:11:27

A friend of mine got a full scholarship to a top girls school in the nineties and included in the schol, especially for her, were elocution lessons, in Y6 before she started! It's very funny if you know where she's from (think Shameless); she's like a secret agent. grin

She said the accent is at least as useful as her education.

Slipshodsibyl Mon 03-Mar-14 11:14:15

Grey throne, people who comment on 'u' and 'non-u' words are just stupid though. And probably not in an especially influential position very often.

ouryve Mon 03-Mar-14 11:20:28

I don't call it a waste of talent if the guy who installs and maintains my central heating or re-wires my house is bright enough to be able to do a proper, safe job.

umpity Mon 03-Mar-14 11:20:32

My late sister was into posh accents. But I tend to think we need a variety of speech including regional accentents. It is true posh accents get better job. But that is wheels within wheels; including a private education

Slipshodsibyl Mon 03-Mar-14 11:25:28

Give isn't asking people to change beyond recognition. He is saying it is helpful if you are able to conform to standard English (with accent remaining); dress code that conforms to the norm for the situation you are in; basic manners (ie, not doing things that make other people feel uncomfortable) when in social situations.

I cannot not see how any of these mean you have to fundamentally change yourself.

ReallyTired Mon 03-Mar-14 11:26:36

"I don't call it a waste of talent if the guy who installs and maintains my central heating or re-wires my house is bright enough to be able to do a proper, safe job."

Working class children need choice about the career path they follow. Otherwise you end up with a caste system where working class children are expected to become cleaners and middle class children grow up to be middle managers and upper middle class children get the top class professional jobs.

None of us are a carbon copy of our parents. We have different talents and prehaps the son of the hospital consultant would be happier being an electrian rather than following in Daddy's footsteps. Conversely just because your parents are working class does not mean you have to have a working class job. Education gives choices and soical mobility.

I think some people are scared of social mobility as they realise that their children may grow up to become toilet cleaners if they do not knuckle down and work at school.

Hullygully Mon 03-Mar-14 11:29:26

When in Rome is always a useful maxim.

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