Class is about money and power, but it is also about culture. Different class groups have different cultural norms and patterns associated with them. So how do we each learn our class positions as well as the class positions of others? Or, because class is also a form of our cultural identity, we might ask how we learn to perform our class and to read and understand the class performance of others? There are two key sites where a majority of this learning occurs: school and media.
School and class messages. Scholars have explained how mass public
schooling is about more than subject-matter education; it is also about ideological socialization (Apple, 1993). In Chapter 2, we reviewed Jean Anyon’s study comparing schoolchildren from working-, middle-, and affluent-class schools, and learned how children are schooled to conceptualize knowledge and their relationship to it, based in part on the school curriculum they receive. As the histories of both Canada and the United States show, the requirement for mass schooling has always been about more than education. Through both required attendance (e.g., via a system of residential schooling) as well as denied attendance (e.g., females, and racialized children), mass schooling has been in large part a project of mass socialization. In fact, compulsory mass schooling is a relatively new social idea in Western nation states (Ballantine & Spade, 2008). The architects of the compulsory mass schooling that started in the
mid-19th century wanted to educate children into a common curricula (a common language, national history, and set of values) in order to become productive citizens of the nation state (Tyack, 1976). Thus we may rightly ask, whose language, history, and values were the framework into which all children were required to fit? Those who created, implemented, and monitored compulsory attendance in mass public schooling, or those who were forced to attend them?