Any student studying Mass Media for Unit 3, should be aware of the Leveson inquiry - a goldmine of examples! The BBC have been doing a rolling commentary on the witness statements, including that by Campbell here.
I’m having trouble uploading resources to the website currently, but there are plenty of stories in the news that provide a good basis for discussion. One on the BBC today questions how easy it is to live on £40,000pa (the average combined income for two adults in the UK). Read it here.
If anybody else is feeling like me at the moment, then it is a good time to (re)discover Chris Gardner’s excellent website: lots of quizzes, games and notes for GCSE Sociology, several of which I use profitably with AS level as well.
A great online exercise for evaluating questionnaires.
OECD study shows the importance of reading to children in their first years at school. Read it here.
The growing population of our planet is of great interest to sociologists, and of concern to many. This neat app on the BBC lets you work out what ‘number’ you are - a great little starter for discussion.
Sugar Daddy parties in the UK - is it a form of prostitution? Is it sexist? Or is it simply a rebirth of traditional relationships where the man is the provider? You decide.
Read the story here.
An interesting link I came across recently which explores the issue of boys underachievement at GCSE in more depth. There is a chapter you can download, along with a presentation, both of which contain useful information that could be adapted for use with sixth-former, or potentially GCSE students.
An interesting discussion of recent changes to electoral procedure; useful as a starting point for discussions about democracy and the balance of power. Read here.
Interesting and baldly stated article about reasons for underachievement by black boys. A good starting point for a lesson.
Nice story for a starter about a father in trouble for taking a photograph of his daughter in a shopping centre. Read it here.
Fascinating programme about race and identity on BBC2 tonight, that will be repeated Tuesday 11:20pm and Wednesday 12:20am.read more...»
Here is an assessment I put together for my year 10, based mainly on the studying society element of Unit 1. It is accompanied by a detailed peer marking exercise with model answers to assist.read more...»
4 Thought on channel 4 present short viewpoints on a wide variety of subjects that might be useful as starters for discussion points. Yesterday’s was on mixed race marriages. The BBC have also commented on the issue, here.
Don’t be misled by the title or the pictures on the website, this series is a great fly-on-the-wall look at comprehensive education today. There is bullying, dating, teaching and even some learning. Take a look at the programmes here.
A joint research carried out by UAB and Ramon Llull University, published in the journal Cultura y Educación, indicates that children sleeping less than nine hours and with bad sleeping habits - such as going to bed late - do worse academically. The study was carried out in several schools with children aged 6 and 7.
You can read an executive summary here.
The BBC discusses the ethical issues of using children as brand ambassadors to sell products.
Interesting discussion of the point of jail and the merits of community sentencing. Read it here.
An excellent piece on the BBC looking at the statistics associated with the riots. Good ‘methods in context’ material for A2 Crime and Deviance.
Read it here.
Another map, this time linking the homes of those charged in relation to the riots in Manchester, to areas of deprivation. A good stimulus for discussing causes of crime.
A study led by University College London suggests that targeting crime ‘hotspots’ is a good way of cutting offending, because most criminals are too lazy to go elsewhere. The study has been printed in the Jourmal of Experimental Criminology and you must be a subscriber to download the full report, but the abstract is below. Mark Easton, writing for the BBC, has also discuss the study, here.read more...»
This discussion thread on the TES website might prove a useful tool in discussing boys’ underachievement with sixth formers.
For those of you introducing capitalism to AS students in the next few weeks, or trying to get A2 students to develop their understanding further, this article might make a good discussion point. In particular, it could help students to apply the theory to contemporary issues and events.
A lovely article from the BBC about the ONS and some of the surveys it has carried out: from how many bras women owned in 1941, to sex and contraception in 2001. Read it here.
The ONS survey highlights would make a good starter for lessons on methods and / or social change; read it here.
I’m not sure who put this together, but this map overlays locations of recent unrest with areas of deprivation. A good starting point for discussion about the root causes… (warning - it can be slow to load)
BBC4 are screening a Horizon documentary this evening (Thursday 11th August, 8-9pm), looking at how parenting techniques have changed, and theory behind those changes. Sure it will be worth a watch, and I shall be recording it for future A level lessons on childhood.
An interesting article about whether ‘social climbing’ is a good thing. I wonder whether the assumption that it is still viewed as a negative aspect, remains true today anyway. What do you think?
A card game for GCSE students studying the family, to help them identify types and definitions. It’s a simple pairing exercise - instructions included.
People in the UK believe their well-being should be measured in terms of health, friends and family and job satisfaction, according to a report by the Office of National Statistics. Read the article here. The report can be downloaded here.
A snippet from Radio 4 highlighting the problem of children arriving at school who don’t even know their own names. The blame is levelled at television and the internet and the failure of families to engage in discussion. Listen to it here.
The BBC screened a programme, Classroom Secrets, earlier this week, that showed footage of how children really behave in class. You can see the programme on BBCiplayer, and there is a short clip along with brief details about the programme, here.
For those that haven’t yet come across Ben Goldacre, he debunks examples of bad science. His articles are insightful and make useful starting points for discussion at A2 (value-free research / the positivism debate) and AS (for those looking at health particularly). His website can be found here.
A neat article bringing together some of the most recent stories about challenging gender. Read it here.
More discussion about fertility rates and the apparent ‘baby boom’ of the first part of this, the 21st century. Is Tony Blair the ‘daddy’? A good starting point for discussion.
In case you missed it earlier in the year, following a great deal of debate around the subject of the commercialisation, and particularly the perceived sexualisation, of children, the Government have commissioned a review. Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Union is leading the review which will focus on 4 key areas:read more...»
The BBC, in an article that not so subtly advertises a new book (Owen Jones - Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class), discusses the controversy around the term ‘chav’ and the continued class division that exists in the UK.
The exam boards are generally looking for up-to-date examples wherever possible, so why not take a look at this article on the BBC about the Miami mega-jail.
‘Imagine a jail where dangerous inmates awaiting trial live 24 to a room and fight each other under a violent gladiatorial code. This is life inside Miami’s mega-jail, writes Louis Theroux.’
If you haven’t found it already, go and look the website for Ken Browne’s Sociology books for A level. There are lots of sample chapters and some useful quizzes and matching exercises that are great for revision.
A last minute case study on Gender Socialisation for either Family topic on SCLY1 or Education on SCLY2; Researchers from Florida State University, have found kids’ books are likely to feature a male hero rather than a female heroine and could be reinforcing gender inequality. Adding that in recent years animal characters were twice as likely to be male as female.
A fun way to revise the strengths and limitations of various research methods based on the card game ‘happy families’. Instructions included.
A year on and some decent analysis from psephologists of the 2010 election are emerging. Dr Justin Greaves of Warwick University has made available an A’Level friendly Power Point on ‘Voting Behaviour at the 2010 General Election’. An excellent resource for any centre studying this minority topic on AQA SCLY3.
Examiners are looking for contemporary references from students and I often get asked where they can find them. I usually start with stories in the news. Here are some quick summaries of stories and studies from April.
Perhaps more political than sociological (and certainly historical), but a useful discussion of the merits of AV versus first past the post.
AV vs FPTP
Don’t seem to be able to embed this, so check it out here. In yesterday’s royal marriage ceremony there was a bit in the service which I’d forgotten about. At one point (follow the link) the Archbishop of Canterbury (and when is someone going to tell him to get his hair cut?) said ‘Who giveth this woman to this man?”. Mr Middleton then gave his daughter’s hand to the Archbishop, who placed Kate’s hand upon Prince William’s hand. Well, I know you can say it’s ‘just’ a tradition, but what would feminists make of that I wonder? Surely the symbolism and the language is clear? The woman is a piece of property - she is ‘given’ by the father, to her husband. The husband-to-be however, is treated differently. He, it seems, is regarded as a fully independent being, who no one has the power to ‘give away’. A marriage of equals? Make of that what you will.read more...»
More fuel for the nurture versus nature argument. This BBC article discusses how success is determined more by effort than talent, and the importance of a ‘growth mindset’ rather than a ‘fixed’ one. Dweck’s experiment should prove fertile ground for discussion.
This little story seems to be getting a lot of media coverage. But for a simple bonus point, identify one public place in the UK where men are allowed to kiss? It’s a good example of the relative nature of deviance - in terms of place that is.
The ATL has produced a study of the impact of poverty of pupils’ learning, reported by the BBC. There is perhaps nothing unusual or unexpected in the findings, but as it is a report of teachers’ perceptions, it could be a useful discussion point on subjectivity as well as material deprivation.read more...»
David Cameron has raised a stink about ethnic minorities going to Oxford University. Much of the argument relates to how you read the statistics! Read it here.
Time for a little light relief for the end of term? This new book from the French Sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann has been all over the British press this week; The Times, The Guardian and The Express. In it he collates 18 months of research looking at what a handbag says about its owner. According to Kaufmann, “I’m like an ethnologist except that, instead of observing a tribe, I observe women. It is perfectly understandable, given that the advent of the handbag coincided with the dawn of choice, so it highlights the way in which women have been able to construct their own identities.
On a similar theme the French video artist Pierre Klein simply asks women to empty the contents and explain what the contents say about the owner. So there you have it, a perfect end of term ‘Starter’ activity - get your students to empty the contents of their bags!
Students who have been discussing the census may be interested in following up by looking at this clip.
Nick Clegg has been talking about social mobility, as reported by the BBC. Alongside the usual politican-speak, is a nice graph that should prove a good discussion point.
This story on the BBC struck me today, not just because of the events, but because of the question of the point at which we stop being children and start being adults. Do we draw the line between boy, youth and man differently depending on the context? Food for thought.
I was going to write something about the royal wedding ring and there’s a nice clip on the BBC about what happens to the census form. However, time has flown, so I will direct you instead to this helpful site where you can make your own crosswords. In fact, I’m going to make one now.
David Willets, the Universities Minister, claims that feminism has held back working class men. Read the article - what do you think?
Nice article from the BBC about the census and the difficulties of counting people - useful evaluation points for students to use.
Some interesting findings reported on the BBC this week looking at the complex range of pressures facing mothers today compared to their mums and grannies. The new research is from The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC). Obviously this will be helpful for students as an up to date case study for ‘Family’ on SCLY1. Also useful for Methods on SCLY2, as the study employs triangulation, consisting of Official Statistics, Focus Groups and an Online Poll. One stand out finding of resonance for me was that the 70’s and 80’s were seen as the best time to raise children; I must let my mum know!
I found this really useful clip on YouTube. It does about 5 mins on newsworthiness and is just right for GCSE although no reason why you couldn’t use it for AS either. It’s American and you might not like the voice over or teach kids who think they must laugh at anyone who differs from them, but my lot seemed happy enough with it. Just slightly cheesy point at the end about writing whatever you like, so I guess it must be aimed at some variety of journalism students.
Sometimes it’s hard to find a sociologist who is easily put into one of the rather artificial boxes or categories which are used at A level. They are useful - up to a point, but if you are ambitious and fairly sophisticated, don’t be fooled into thinking all sociologists fit neatly into such categories. Remember, sociological theories are tools - to be used - and different sociologists adapt them in different ways.
But anyway, do you know of any real positivists? Here’s one I’ve found - Diego Gambetta of Nuffield College Oxford. He has written a great website where he explains some of his views. I don’t necessarily agree with him, but you’ve got to admire the bluntness of the man who can say this: ” I detest jargon, which has done so much to ruin, often deservedly, the reputation of sociology. I do not mean technical words, or new words that identify something for which we have no synonyms in our vocabulary. I mean all embracing loose metaphors – such as liquid modernity or risk society or space of flows. Jargon is the make up donned by bad theorising to veil its hollowness. When I encounter words such as discourse, modernity or structuration I stop reading.” If you want to read more you will find it in his his essay More Hedgehog than Fox: a self-presentation.
Having woken late or to find that the clocks should have moved forward many of us - or heads of household at least - may now also be dimly aware of another demand being made by the state - fill in your census form. If you are a teacher - do not look a gift horse in the mouth - fill in your return online and keep the questionnaire to use in class. Whether you are a student or a teacher, check up the census website and have a look at the questions. Students especially, who have a tendency to think questionnaires are easy - having looked at the questions, the number of options and the coding boxes - do you still think this is an easy method?
The BBC have carried out a survey of UK schoolchildren, looking at religion and technology, as well as hopes and aspirations. It makes interesting reading and might be useful for AS students studying the family. Read the story here and download the report here.
Nice clip for explaining or getting into postmodernism here.
I put these exam outlines together for my students to help them prepare for the summer exams. Feel free to use and adapt.
Unit 3: Mass Media AQA_SCLY3_outline.doc
Unit 4: Crime and deviance with methods and theory AQA_SCLY4_outline.doc
The BBC reported on the potential impact of the rise in tuition fees for university, with some calculations provided by Baker Tilly. A good starting point for a debate on the impact of marketisation. Read about it here.
I have just been given David McCandless’ great coffee table book ‘Information is Beautiful’. As a consequence I’ve been raiding some of his images for class as an alternative to ‘boring’ tables and charts.
Try starting with these
‘Mountains Out of Molehills’ - timeline of global media scare stories, an interactive visualisation of Cohen’s Moral Panics?
‘Left vs. Right’ – SCLY3 Politics for Dummies!
‘Racist profiling’ – a mapping correlation of ethnicity population density and support of nationalistic parties in the UK. Psephology for SCLY3?
Don’t miss a special Thinking Allowed tomorrow, which will feature Laurie Taylor talking to Stuart Hall about multiculturalism. Should be fascinating.
Some headteachers and deputies at the Annual Conference of the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL) in Manchester are wearing badges that say ‘I failed the English bac’ in protest at the Government’s new measure of GCSE performance. Old fashioned and contradictory to personalised learning, or driven by public demand? What do you think?
Read about it here.
I put these exam outlines together for my students to help them prepare for the summer exams. Feel free to use and adapt.
Unit 1: families and households AQA_SCLY1_outline.doc
Unit 2: education with research methods AQA_SCLY2_outline.doc
The BBC recently reported the release of a new study looking at unpaid domestic labour and gender roles. The idea that the finding that ‘out-of-work fathers spend less time caring for their children than mothers who have a job’ reflects ‘startling new research’ would be a good starting point for discussion. The report itself provides some interesting points of cross-cultural comparison and is worth a look. A copy can be downloaded here.
There’s a very useful clip from BBC Breakfast - an interview with Rory McGrath talking about losing his religious faith. Would be great for introducing lessons on either secularization or sociological perspectives on religion - Marxism or Functionalism - as McGrath touches on the issue of how Catholicism can be a controlling influence in a person’s life.
Neat little story from the BBC about the pressures of parenting - just to give you a flavour from the other side of the education debate. Read it here.
A new series starts on BBC2 this week in which Kirsty Young looks at British working lives since the Second World War. This programme combines the memories of ordinary working people with vivid archive from documentary, television and film to look at an era in which work was a great mass experience and work places were lively, welcoming communities. Details can be found here
AQA encourage students to use contemporary examples where possible. For Unit 1: Families and Households, you may like to discuss new government policy towards divorcing couples: they are to be referred to mediation to sort out disputes before they are allowed to resort to the courts (BBC article).
Historian David Starkey has become the surprise star of the new series, ‘Jamie’s Dream School’. Ostensibly focusing on how to engage teenagers who have dropped out of mainstream education, the programme mainly succeeds in showing just how difficult teaching can be - even if you are world-renowned expert in your field! You can read an article here.read more...»
Just to say, ‘Hi’, I’m back. Apologies for the break in normal service, but I’ve started teaching at a new school and hadn’t got my computer links sorted out. I’ve got a couple of powerpoints which I am trying to post up - one has worked and I’ve put it in for Wednesday - check the format/version will work with your system. Thanks to Stephen and Jenny for holding the fort.
The 2011 UK Census will attempt for the first time to measure how happy we are, the ONS actually call it ‘Subjective Well Being’ – SWB. It sounds like herding cats to me. In the run up to the exam season it provides an interesting way to introduce/refresh the methodological issues of Sociology and Science, Objectivity and Subjectivity.
Needless to say this has provoked a lot of interest in the media. In his BBC blog, Mark Easton provides a comprehensive review of the issue, with lots of interesting international graphs (we’re a miserable lot) and links to some more in depth research. Whilst (Mr Grumpy) Laurie Taylor in his weekly BBC R4 programme (about 12 minutes in) talks to the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner who believes that…... ‘happiness has become a burdensome duty and that the wave of enthusiasm for pursuing the nebulous quality has the opposite effect of actually promoting unhappiness amongst those who seek it’. In other words don’t chase happiness, just embrace it when it arrives.
Well, if this works, great. Attached is a powerpoint of some images I use for teaching secondary sources. There are no words, just images. I find this quite a helpful way of doing things - get the students to say what the images show and make them discuss what the significance is.
Work is a four letter word but is its future male or female led? Lots of chatter in the Media over recent weeks about the role women play in the workplace. Much focused on questioning why after over a decade of girls out performing boys we are not seeing that dominance transferred to the world of work. Plenty of ideas for students to discuss; Lord Davies’ idea of a 25% Female quota in boardrooms by 2015 or research from Institute of Leadership and Management examining the ‘Glass ceiling’ in 2011 UK. Most interesting for me was that according to figures from Bright Grey, almost half of women describe themselves as the main earner in their household. Getting very close to the tipping point on conventional notions of a male identity as the ‘breadwinners’?
This is from Ian Gilbert’s book- The Little Book of Thunks (just Google it). The (very) rough idea of a ‘thunk’ is to develop students thinking skills and Gilbert seems to advocate getting students into a circle and getting them all to contribute and debate - no writing involved. Here’s one which is about race - could be useful to link up to discussion about policies too:
” Is not being against racism the same as being for it”?
I just had an idea that this painting - The Arnolfini Wedding, by Jan van Eyck - would be an interesting way to start off a lesson about gender relations and marriage - perhaps in the context of how gender relations have changed over time? Perhaps some teachers would feel this is a bit too removed from students culture - in which case, perhaps you could juxtapose it with something more representative of current times. Jordan and Alex perhaps? Anyway, for you to improvise. There is a nice line or two on Arnolfini on the wikipedia entry - first bullet point under intepretation and symbolism gives you all you need for an A level sociology lesson.
Well, there are many ways, but here is one excellent example from Phil Beadle. If you need to help classes with their language skills there is no reason why you couldn’t lift some of this straight into your sociology lessons. Beyond that, we can all think about how to apply these techniques to teaching sociology.
A couple of activities for teaching ethnicity and education.read more...»
Trying to find a ‘hook’ on which to hang various Sociological concepts in order to capture students imagination is always a challenge. The recent C4 series ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ has been a gift. It pulls in 8m+ viewers, even beating ‘The Brits’, regularly trends at #1 on Twitter and is the conversation starter every Wednesday registration. Norms & Values, Socialisation, Sub Cultural Theory, Media Representation, Patriarchy; you name it, links every week.
Obviously there has been a lot of media interest into the success of the programme, not all of it positive. From the obvious moral high ground(!) of the Daily Mail, to more thoughtful analysis on the beeb. The travelling community have found a voice too through their own media.
If that’s all a bit lightweight, it might be worth checking out these two ethnographies I’ve been using this term as part of the IB Social Anthropology course. The Clark & Greenfields is an excellent introduction, serving as a ‘reader’ in the subject. Whilst the Okely book is a full blown Ethnographic Study, particularly interesting considering it was written 30 years ago and bears little resemblance to some of the customs in the 2011 programme. So much for tradition!
There’s a discussion on the relationship between Islam and Capitalism today on Thinking Allowed - should be worth listening to.
Yeh, I know I’ve cheated and retro-posted this. But hey, give me a break. For teachers and students, this week I am reading Phil Beadle’s book, How to Teach and I’m listening to Feist. Like you care. Find inspiration wherever you can I say.
Amongst some curious articles on the BBC News site - where to go to the toilet and what to do if you are attacked by a crocodile, there is this article about revolutions. I think you could use this as a fresh way of evaluating the Marxist perspective. Ask students two simple (looking) questions:
1. How many of the revolutions in the article conform to Marx’s theory (i.e. working class revolution to overthrow capitalists).
2. What are the weaknesses in the Marxist theory - and they are not allowed to just say that Marx is wrong!
Wikipedia; it’s been with us for 10 years now, it is the default option for a generation of students as a first source for research. Yes they’re warned about its legitimacy but now this article from The Independent reveals a new twist, 86.73% of entries are written by men. Malestream alive and well on the web. Should we be surprised? No, as Bywater says in the article, ‘it’s what we (men) do’. Wikipedia is an exercise in pedantic arguments. So why do more women not contribute? Is it the combative, intimidating editing culture fostered by the men? Should we be concerned? Yes, like it or lump it, Wikipedia is here to stay and will serve as a record of society, culture and knowledge for future generations.
The Daily Politics today promises Toyah Wilcox talking about sexism and ageism. I’m not sure she is the most authoritative voice on these topics, but it could provide some useful clips - the Daily Politics page seems to have a lot of them. Could be worth perusing for class use. It may also be a way of highlighting the links between sociology and politics.
Research published by social scientists from the University of Manchester suggests that the gap between rich and poor pupils is not closing. This reminds me of an article written many years ago by Basil Bernstein - the sociologist who invented the terms ‘elaborated’ and ‘restricted’ codes. Bernstein’s article was titled, ‘Education cannot compensate for society’. To my mind the Manchester researchers seem to bear out this view. Check out their research in this news article from BBC News.
I’m a great fan of self-assessment so created these sheets for students to complete at the end of each unit. These are based on the AQA specification for Unit 1: families and households and Unit 2: education with research methods. They provide a useful revision tool for students and I copy and collate responses to help me plan revision sessions. Feel free to use and adapt.
Hope everyone watched the programme on BBC 2 last night about jobs, education and class. Here’s a link to the Great British Class Survey - some great summaries and info and the chance to take part yourself.
Apologies for absence over the last two days. This programme from the BBC should be very useful for all sociology students and teachers. I will be glued to it and interested to see what recent research they draw upon. Tonight, BBC 2, 21.00
Next month sees the Government undertake the next Census. The BBC have done a wonderful piece about some of the differences between the 1911 and 2011 Censuses. The spoiled entry from 1911 would make a particularly good starter for discussion.
For those studying Mass Media, there’s an interesting article on the BBC today about the impact of communications technology on our lives. Focussing on the World Economic Forum in Davos, the author reports on some of the advantages and disadvantages raised by business leaders and development experts.
Following the departure of Sky Sports’ broadcaster Richard Keys and Andy Gray for sexist remarks, the question of gender is a pertinent one for discussion. Is Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson right to suggest that the row is ‘baffling and worrying’? Or, should we be more concerned that the gender pay gap for full-time employees is 10.2% (2009, ONS)?read more...»
Here’s a powerpoint on postal questionnaires. Might need a few bits of clarification here and there - some may find some of my pictures a bit cryptic - teachers please oblige. And PQs are of course, postal questionnaires.
Here’s a worksheet I did on postal questionnaires the other week. There is a powerpoint on the way.pq1.docx
Spotted on last night’s episode of University Challenge - 3 questions on French Sociology. 1. Who wrote the book ‘Distinction’? 2. Who was a critic of Marxism and wrote in right wing newspaper Le Figaro? 3. Who founded the French School of Sociology and published ‘The Divsion of Labour’ and ‘Suicide’?
This news story can be put to good use to explain gender roles and gendering. Why is so much sport seen as the preserve of men? How are sporting activities gendered as male activities? What identities are constructed as suitable for women and how does taking part in sport shape the sorts of feminine identities which are available to women?
There was an excellent programme on BBC2 last night (Thursday) called ‘Who does what?’in which couples have their household activity analysed to find out who really does what. It will be available on BBCiplayer until 10th February, so do try and watch.
A fun starter activity on the subject is to look at 3 adverts for the same cleaning product, spanning the last 50 or 60 years.read more...»