Theoretical Studies Towards a Sociology of Language: Class, by Basil B Bernstein

By Basil B Bernstein

The papers during this quantity exhibit the starting place and improvement of Bernstein's theoretical stories into the relationships among social category, styles of language use and the first socialization of the child.'Bernstein's speculation would require [teachers] to appear afresh not just at their students' language yet at how they educate and the way their scholars learn.'Douglas Barnes, occasions academic Supplement'His honesty is such that it illuminates a number of elements of what it's to be a genius.'Josephine Klein, British magazine of academic experiences

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Additional info for Theoretical Studies Towards a Sociology of Language: Class, Codes and Control

Sample text

Specifically it might throw some light on the found discrepancies between potential ability and measured attain-ment of working-class pupils, by indicating how perception is patterned sociologically. A comparative study of middle-class and working-class nursery schools would be invaluable. The psychological causes of difficulties in the basic subjects is a different problem. What appears vital is the separating out of sociological and psychological factors in order that constructive methods may be worked out to prevent the wastage of working-class educational potential.

This mode of perception (sensitivity to content) would explain some of the discrepancies between verbal and non-verbal tests (see study) and why working-class children tend to do less well on purely verbal tests. Although it has been found that working-class children do not become part of the social and cultural life of the grammar school (Himmelweit, 1954; Oppenheim, 1955) this fact in itself is not explanatory nor need it necessarily lead to poorer educational performance. In fact it has been shown that often working-class children in grammar schools come from homes Class, codes and control 28 where there is little divergence between the aims of the school and those of the home.

The working-class child has to translate and thus mediate middle-class language structure through the logically simpler language structure of his own class to make it personally meaningful. Where he cannot make this translation he fails to understand and is left puzzled. In an appendix to A Study of Thinking (Bruner, 1957) the author considers that a range of experience may be differentiated in the lexicon of one language and undifferentiated in another. Although the context of the statements is in a discussion of distinctions within and between primitive languages the force of the comment is believed to hold here.

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