In this paper the author considers the transformation of the meanings of education as related to changes in society, schools and students. It is particularly highlighted how students find it very difficult to attribute a sound meaning to their school work, as well as to the credentials they get from schools. This is due to the fact that the social and cultural capital of families, and the school activity, are subject to the risk of erosion, their effectiveness being dramatically called into question. This major phenomenon is well documented by the poor competences and performance students display, even when they attain a degree. The high cultural capital of origin still influences the choices and the scholastic results, but it results in a mere function of social reproduction rather than being a factor in the increase of culture and of the students’ cognitive skills: a rent rather than a meaningful point of departure. On the contrary, people starting from a less advantaged situation are bound to struggle with harsh competition, that doesn’t often repay them of the efforts they make to have positive results. The Italian school system appears unable to make a difference in enhancing the social and cultural capital of its students: in this way, the school is currently contributing to legitimate those views which make sense of education in a merely instrumental way.
Students and the meaning of education
Besozzi E. (2009) "Students and the meaning of education " Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 1(1), 50-67. DOI: 10.14658/PUPJ-IJSE-2009-1-5
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Italian Journal of Sociology of Education
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