the class divide: blue-collar roots, academic dreams

Dawn writes about her discomfort in academia, as she reads The Winter Sundays: Female Academics and Their Working-Class Parents, a book that seems to have similar threads to Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams. Dawn writes:

Nowhere is it [the class divide] more apparent than in higher education. This is the realm of the priviledged. For those of us who come from working-class families and who manage to make it into college and who, by some miracle or unnatural act, actually make it into graduate school, the university systems of the United States are filled with the perils of trying to fit in, trying to blend, trying to not be noticed for the interlopers we are. We’re not supposed to be here. Not only do our classmates not understand us and make snide remarks regarding the working class (or even worse, those who have been homeless or who are unemployed), but faculty rarely understand the pressures that accompany a non-traditional student and the struggles that go along with trying to beat the odds to be a part of the academy.

This rang pretty true to me. I’m not so non-traditional, but there have definitely been times where I felt so out of place because I didn’t get the “code” of how to behave or what to say in academic social settings. Dawn says she’ll write more, and I hope she does.

I just visited my family in Iowa on my way to Pennsylvania. I don’t feel that close to many of them, and the whole educational disparity becomes pretty clear to me. My grandfather is concerned that I’ll educate myself out of a job, and no one is really interested in what I’ll be doing as an academic. The world of the university is so foreign to my family that my dad thought I would be teaching all my classes in the same classroom (as an instructor) instead of walking around campus. This is an iceberg tip. I kind of want to come back to this later.

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