GEND 356: Jensen "Reading Classes: Chapter Six - Across the Great Divide"

"As we have seen with primary and secondary schools, college students from the middle class generally find in higher education the cultural rules, values, language, and community mores that are familiar to them.  Working class students, again, face a maze of new rules, values, language, and a world of indecipherable references" (150).
This directly relates to what Jean Anyon was discussing in "Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work" in regards to the differing social class behaviors in the classroom setting.  (I did notice that Jensen mentioned Anyon a handful of times in this chapter.)  Anyon discusses in detail the ways in which different-class students are socially groomed for their respective class in a school setting.  Jensen talks about how this affects how different classes approach college.  Since college is designed "by and for the middle and upper class" it can only leave the working class struggling or leave them "behind" altogether.

"Of course, among elite schools in the United States, reaching out to working class people has never been the goal.  In fact, if you subtract the legacy admissions of children of wealthy alumni (who donate money) and also annual designated scholarships, only 40 percent of all college slots are left for all the middle class and working class folks who want to go" (160).

This is frustrating.  According to Anyon, "the number of persons who presently comprise the working class in the United States is between 50 percent and 60 percent of the population" and that the wealthiest comprise a fraction of 1 percent (Anyon 69).  This is to say nothing of the percentage of the US population that are lower class and poor.  Not only is a college education for those who are not financially able difficult to come by in the first place, and not only are working class students faced with the difficulty of completely different "rules, values, language" of the middle class, but they have a smaller percentage of "slots" available to them. If this isn't a kick in the teeth to the lie that is the "American Dream" than I don't know what is.  This is a further illustration of how difficult class mobility is in the United States--contrary to what mass media and dominant ideology would leave you to believe.

"My list of working class difficulties in college includes any of the following:  (1) serious mental health problems such as major depression (including suicide), dysthymia (a lower level, long-standing depression), post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse; (2) a complicated and confused bereavement, or grief process--of leaving home forever; (3) internalized classism; (4) anomie or a sense of placelessness; (5) imposter syndrome; and (6) survivor guilt" (161).
This quote illustrates one of Jensen's main points: that crossing classes (going from working to middle class, for example) causes a myriad of mental issues that college professors in general (due to internalized classism) do not sympathise with or understand.  She gives the example of one student overhearing a conversation between two professors in which one tells the other about an excuse they never heard before--a student having to help move a trailer--and both the professors laughing about it.  This type of classism is inherent in the system of academia that is tailored for middle and upper class students.  This classism causes real and sometimes fatal issues in the lives of individuals.

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