Foundations for Academic Success Track

Terrell Gray, “Class in the Classroom”

Terrell Gray is being recognized for effective audience awareness and establishment of ethos. In his essay, Gray synthesizes two pieces that challenge the current state of education in America and its role in shaping the class disparities we see in our nation today. Through this paper, Gray demonstrates a strong grasp of audience awareness, writing both academically and objectively as he crafts his argumentative claim that our current education system contributes to later economic disparities. He also does an impeccable job attributing his two sources in a concise manner, calling attention to the ethos of both Deresiewicz and Anyon.  

Reflecting on this project, Gray underscores his critical engagement with the topic:

I can make a significant connection with my experience as a freshman and a topic I wrote about often during the second semester. That topic was about education, socioeconomic class, and the value of college. A lot of this writing was from my perspective just before attending college. A theme I often discussed in these papers was the uncertainty that people can face when questioning the value of an education. College is expensive and can drastically change people’s lives based on finances alone, and the thought of this was weighing heavily on me. I kept thinking, “How could a relatively low class, unprivileged person like me be expected to succeed through college?” Upon researching these topics to fit into a paper, I began to see that I wasn’t entirely unprivileged at all. In fact, there were a lot of privileges that helped me get here, and I had to keep shifting my perspective to include potentially anyone who wanted a higher education and the barriers they might face.

Read an excerpt from “Class in the Classroom”:

While higher income schools have almost always been seen as offering a superior quality

of education than their lower income counterparts, it has often been equivocal as to what extent socioeconomic class factors into the classroom. Ideally, class would mean nothing in the context of western class mobility. Anyone should be able to do anything if he or she works hard enough, right? However, it should be noted that there is a huge disparity when regarding the educations of people from differing economic backgrounds. Former Yale professor William Deresiewicz claims that the grooming of students for Ivy League schools is largely the result of this class disparity in his piece, “​Don’t Send Your Kids to the Ivy League​.” His claim is supported by the stark educational differences described by educational policy professor Jean Anyon in her research in “From Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work​.” Both texts focus on the implication that economic disparity has divided people’s educations based on social and economic class. In short, schools for wealthier people are generally going to groom their students for the more socially elite positions of their parents while the less wealthy schools prepare their students for the pedestrian roles of their parents. This grooming of roles occurs at a young age and continues at every tier of education until the student is fully cemented in that role. In the modern world, education is valued very highly, and this value has morphed into the basis for a class struggle. The lack of social mobility in terms of education perpetuates the disparity between classes at every educational level.