Social Mobility | Teen Ink

Social Mobility

May 15, 2011
By KimiRose GOLD, Harrogate, Other
KimiRose GOLD, Harrogate, Other
14 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Politicians are always saying that social mobility is important. They may even go as far as to promise that if we elect them, they will make a lasting contribution to ensuring that it is possible for people born into the most disadvantaged families to be able to improve their life chances, and to climb the social ladder. So why have things still not changed?
If anything, they have gotten worse. With the introduction of higher tuition fees, university may seem out of reach to many young people. We could be seeing the return of days when a good education was reserved only for the rich, while those with a poorer background are forced to remain so. Leading sociologist at Durham University Dr People recently commented that, “the gap between the lower and upper classes has been widening in recent years.” This gulf is becoming harder and harder to cross.
Many pupils are becoming disillusioned with education. Indeed, only 60% of 16-year-olds leave school with 5 A*-C GCSE passes, according to recent figures by the Office for Education. The remaining 40% are unlikely to ever get a well-paid job, and may end up living on benefits paid for by the 60% who do achieve the necessary qualifications to do well in life.
So how do we motivate students? That is a question that has been eluding teachers for decades. But my opinion is, students will work hard if they believe that they will get a reward for their efforts. If they believe they are never going to get anywhere with education, they will not work for it. Give them a reason to believe that they can go far in life if only they put in the effort, and you never know what might happen.
Social mobility is an issue that affects everyone, from every walk of life. Why should the rich, who are born into families with plenty of money, feel that they do not have to work hard to maintain that status? Why should the poor, who are born with little to spare, have to be content with that for the rest of their lives? Should how rich or poor we are be dependent on who our parents were? Or should it depend on how hard we work in life?
There is the old adage that ‘old money is better than new money’. I, however, believe the opposite to be true. After all, being born into fortune says nothing about a person’s character. They could be lazy, snobbish, cruel or vain, yet still have the comfort of a large inheritance to fall back on. Those who have made their own fortunes are the ones to be admired. For they are the ones who have toiled away, who have preserved against adversity, and come out on top. They ought to be revered, not shunned.
So next time politicians promise to improve social mobility, we should hold them to that promise. For social mobility is by far one of the key issues that affects us today, as it has for centuries. We should respect those who have benefitted from it, and hope that many more continue to do so.
Here’s to a society where people are judged on themselves, not their ancestors.

The author's comments:
Originally a response to a practice exam question, but I rather liked it.

NB: This is mainly about the UK, but it would probably apply to other countries too.

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