Subcultures in Education

A school subculture can be described as a group of pupils who share similar behaviours and views on school. They are often a response to how pupils feel they have been labelled by teachers and can be both positive and negative. Paul Willis’s ‘Learning to Labour’ is a classic study within this field. In this work, Willis examined two subcultures within a school setting ‰ÛÒ the ‘lads’ and the ‘ear-oles’.

A brief overview of the study can be found here:

Learn More Paul Willis is a leading British cultural theorist

Paul Willis claimed that ‘the lads’ had formed an anti-school subculture. They rejected school and all its values and instead focussed on the day they would eventually be allowed to leave. They formed their own set of values opposed to those of the school. For example, valuing ‘having a laugh’ in lessons instead of learning.

Students could be introduced to the acronym NEETS ‰ÛÒ not in employment, education or training - and research the number of NEETS in their previous or current school. Working in groups, they could then suggest ways in which the government, via schools and colleges, could encourage more young people to enter training or further education. Links to ROSLA ‰ÛÒ the raising of the school leaving age ‰ÛÒ are clear and in this respect, the term ‘synopticity’ could be introduced.

The Poverty Site has some useful data on NEETS that could be used in lesson. This can be downloaded as a pdf:

Learn More Not in education, employment or training

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