Lies My Teacher Told Me- James W. Loewen

Chapter 7: Land of Opportunity
How does social class define who we are?
Why do you think History books leave out issues of social and economic inequality?


Do you agree with Loewen, that opportunity is not equal in America?

According to Loewen, social class is probably the single most important variable in society.From the womb to tomb, it correlates with almost all social characteristics of people that we can measure. (207)

  • Affluent expectant mothers are more likely to get prenatal care, receive current medical advice, and enjoy general health fitness, and nutrition.
  • Many poor and working- class mothers- to- be first contact the medical profession in the last month, sometimes the last hours, of their pregnancies.
  • Rich babies come out healthier and weighing more than poor babies.
In terms of education:
  • Rich teenagers enroll in the Princeton Review or other coaching sessions for the SAT.
  • To no one's surprise, social class correlates strongly with SAT scores.
After college:
  • Most affluent children get white collared jobs.
  • Most working class children get blue- collar jobs.

And the class differences continue.

Social class buys life even in the midst of danger:

  • More recently, social class played a major role in determining who fought in the Vietnam War: despite the universal drafts, sons of affluent won educational and medical deferments through most of the conflict.
  • The all-volunteer army that fights in Iraq relies even more on lower class recruits, who sign up as a way out of poverty.
  • The night the Titanic sank across the Atlantic in 1912, social class proved to be a key determinant of who survived and who perished.

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Social Class in America

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How has your own class attitudes shaped your life?