Tag Archives: Education

Twitter as a revision tool in ten tweets

–      Twitter as an educational tool in ten tweets –

I’m getting my students used to using twitter as an educational tool this week. I’ll be getting them work through the following questions. I’m doing this with my A2 Global Development other educators should be able to modify this for their own subjects…

Initial steps

  • Set up a dedicated sociology twitter account if you haven’t already done so
  • Follow all the other students who follow me – NB – check later who I follow too, as I will be following people as they join!

Twitter as an educational tool in ten tweets –

Work your way through these – these are ten ways you (we) can use twitter as an educational tool. This focuses on recent Development work (the SCLY3 module)

Tweet 1 – Define one of the following terms in 146 characters – #Patriarchy #Globalisation or #Urbanisation – start the tweet #concept – (then define it)

Tweet 2 – Retweet the versions of the definition you think are the best

  • Now ‘Favourite’ the ones you like in order to note them down later.

Tweet 3 – Tweet one advantage of using #NGOAID over ODA aid – put #NGOAID at the beginning of the tweet.

Tweet 4 – Review other tweets that answer to 1 and 3 (NB there may still be some definitions coming in) and comment on one you think particularly good by replying to someone using @theirusername.

Tweet 5 – Tweet about the most obscure/ advanced thing you talked about in your essay on gender and development. Put #genderessay at the beginning of the tweet.

  • Review the tweets on gender – add in any ideas you missed to your essay.

Tweet 6 – Use the @ function to reply to someone and ask how they used the concepts/ case studies they talked about – you will be getting a ‘twitter conversation going about essay planning – which can continue on the train ride home. (Obviously if you get an @question your next tweet may be replying)

Tweet 7 – Either find something on line relevant to global development or find a good revision site and tweet us the link – with a brief summary of what it’s about

Tweet 8 – Possibly the simplest usage – tweet a question about something you have found slightly obscure or difficult to understand – Use the #SCLY3 if the question is about that, or if you’re resitting use #SCLY4

Tweet 9 Find another sociology source on twitter to follow – recommend them to the rest of us using #FF

Tweet 10 – Tweet how useful you find this as a revision tool

On the benefits of burning your children’s stuffed animals

Amy Chua and her daughters - who had a TV free chilhood
Amy Chua and her daughters - who had a TV free chilhood

Amy Chua’s latest book – Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother – argues against the weak, cuddling, Western parenting style, making the case that the much stricter approach of Chinese parents is superior. Some of the rules she subjected her own daughters to included –

  • Never letting them attend sleepovers
  • Never having ‘playdates’
  • never watching TV or playing computer games
  • Practising musical instruments 2-3 hours a day.

If their standards ever dropped, she called them garbage and threatened to burn their stuffed toys. There is a good overview of the main themes of the book here and she discusses the book in this video

This is a great example of a biographical piece of research giving us an insight into Chinese parenting and one that can easily be related to education…. while this is an extreme case study, and we need to be cautious of operating in stereotypes, there is wider research that suggests Chinese (and Indian) parents are stricter with their children and place a greater emphasis on the importance of educational achievement than parents of other ethnic backgrounds  – and they make greater efforts than white British parents, for exmpale,  to police their children to make sure they are doing their homework. Their children’s social lives are also policed to a higher degree – and Chinese and Indian children generally have less freedom.

One such piece of evidence is Francis and Archer (2005) –  in their study of British Chinese students and parents, similarly point to the high value placed on education by parents, coupled with a strong cultural tradition of respect for one’s elders, which facilitates the transmission of high educational aspiration from parents to children, and that students derive positive self-esteem from constructing themselves as good students.

There is a distinct correlation between stricter parenting and exam results – it is Chinese students who get the best GCSE results in English schools.

ethnity and educational achievement

Also, if you look at things cross nationally, according to OECD league tables, they come top in academic standards for reading, maths and science, while the UK comes 25th, 28th and 16th respectively, even though we spend considerably more per head of population on education.

What isn’t clear from the data (and also what you won’t get from one book about one family!)  is what exactly it is about the relationship between parents, children and education that makes Chinese students so good at exams. Is it that they put in more hours out of fear or guilt, or is it that they use thes time they do spend on education more effectively either because they are more focussed due to less TV or because they have better learning techniques… or because of something else?

It’s also worth considering whether this type of parenting is more or less conducive to producing children who  capabable of independent thought and action in later life than the more liberal parenting we typically get in the west.

Thinking Allowed – softer masculinities

In this podcast A Sociologist reveals his findings about masculinity and identity based on 5 months participant observation with students in a sixth form in the South of England. The podcast focuses on ideas about heterosexuality and homosexuality.

This is a nice 15 minute summary of a paper entitled ‘It’s just not acceptable any more:  the erosion of homophobia and the softening of masculinity at and English sixth form by Mark McCormac and Eric Anderson. Below is a summary of some of the main findings –

Contemporary attitudes to homosexuality stand in contrast to the 1980s and 1990s when there was awareness of homosexuality but it was stigmatized –young men did not want  to be associated with homosexuality and thus they would engage in displays of overtly masculine behavior such as fighting and be openly homophobic in order to demonstrate their heterosexuality – the theory was that they did so in order to reinforce their heterosexual, traditionally masculine identities.

In the latest research the researchers were surprised at the wide spread acceptance and tolerance of the notion that some people are gay, the condemnation of homophobic behavior and even criticism of the school for not doing enough to promote sexual equality –students were actually critical that there were no openly gay teachers at the school and about the lack of discussion of gay issues in lessons.

Another finding was that many of the male students seemed to be extremely comfortable with expressing more traditionally feminine aspects of their identities – even if not themselves gay – two such examples were the high degrees of physical contact between boys – sitting on each other’s laps, hugging and so on, and the attention paid to appearance – fake tan and moisturizer. However, most boys did engage in a practice that the researchers termed ‘heterosexual recuperation.’ In which they would jokingly make comments about fancying their friends – as a means of ironically asserting their heterosexuality.

This study is also interesting from a methodological point of view – involving 5 months of overt participant observation

As part of the research, the researchers took steps to gain the respondent’s confidence by dressing in similar ways and hanging about with them watching the same TV shows and it helped that they shared similar tastes in music – they also bought clothes from similar shops – an interesting case for selecting researchers who are close in characteristics to the people they are researching.

Ethics are also interesting – the researchers were prepared to openly discuss their sexualities – the feeling being that this would put them on an equal footing with the respondents.

One also has to ask how representative the study is – it was carried out in one middle class, secular school – however, McCormac says he repeated the research in a religious college and a ‘failing’ school… he said there were differences but the similarities were greater.

It might, however,  be worth considering whether this tolerance of homosexual identities is found amongst younger boys – 13-15 year olds for example – but I guess child protection issues might preclude you from researching this.

There is also the possibility that the lads were playing up to the researchers, but the researcher denies this because of the length of stay in the institution – you can’t keep an act up for so long.

All in all this is an interesting study that shows that there is increasing tolerance of marginal sexual identities among older school children in the United Kingdom, which stand in contrast to previous research that found evidence of homophobic bullying in schools

Does ‘the apprentice’ need cultural capital?

Joanna - sacked for lack of cultural capital?
Joanna - sacked for lack of cultural capital?

Stuart got fired for being full of s**t, Jamie got fired for being a bit wet, but did Jo get fired because of her lack of cultural capital?

We use this concept of Bourdieu’s in the AS Sociology of education to explain why middle class kids do better in education – Stephen Ball pointed out – middle class parents have better skills when it comes to researching schools; they know how to work the system to their children’s advantage  and are more able to relate to teachers because they share a similar cultural background and world view.

This might be forcing the use of the cocnept a bit – but I think Jo got sacked because of her lack of cultural capital. In this case her previous experience simply meant she didn’t have sufficient formal knowledge of how business worked on a scale above the level of her own relatively small cleaning firm.

Firsly in the interview process she was disadvantaged because she hadn’t researched Alan Sugar’s company – and the idea of doing this in fact seemed totally alien to her her. Secondly, she just looked like a total fish out of water in the formal setting of the interview.

Having started up her own cleaning business from scratch, I imagine Jo had never gone through the whole formal job- interview process – unlike the two winning candidates who would have been very used to the necessary formalities. This was totally unlike Chris who said ‘I was told (thus having the cultural capital) that in an interview you should give calm, measured responses – or something along those lines.

And I may be wrong about this – but she seemed to think that being the apprentice meant being trained up – as in being taught about business – It’s as if she thought she was going to get a crash course in basic degree level business if she won – she seemed to be desperate for an business education. The two that got through had already had that – Chirs with his academic background and Stella would have got that through her 10 years in her previous company.

So despite showing more aptitude in winning more tasks than both of the two finalists, Jo appears to have been sacked because of her lack of cultural capital relative to the other two candidates. Becasue of their educational and business advantage previous to the interview processs, they are going to be more able to fit into Alan Sugar’s business. Basically, unless all the other candidates were clearly worse, and in this case they weren’t, Joanna – a working class woman with no formal business training only used to running a small cleaning business – was doomed to fail from the start.