In Germany, the acquisition of higher school qualifications largely depends on the parents' level of education. The so-called academic children still have a better chance of becoming academics themselves than the children of blue-collar workers or ordinary employees. Despite all political efforts to break this spell of origin in educational biographies. The field of educational sociology appears to have been thoroughly researched. Whether it is family ties or school - the state of research can hardly be overlooked, but the resistance of the phenomenon itself has not changed. And yet Charlotte Ostermann and Martin Neugebauer have now found another aspect of the school that has actually hardly been researched so far. They start from the well-known finding that teachers tend tofrom the outset, to expect less performance from students with a simple educational background, which in turn is reflected in correspondingly lower academic successes of these students. So far, however, the question of whether all teachers discriminated in the same way has hardly been investigated. Perhaps, depending on their own educational biography, they reacted differently to socially disadvantaged students?

If it is true, as Pierre Bourdieu wrote, that schools are "middle-class institutions," then one would expect that they would appropriately privilege middle-class children.

But is it possible that teachers who themselves came from lower social classes preferred students with a social background similar to theirs?

Are you more likely to support, motivate and encourage you, precisely because you know how difficult it is to leave your own educational background?

According to Ostermann and Neugebauer, could workers' children who have become teachers help other workers' children because they themselves are still children of workers' parents?

Neutrality towards the educational background of the students

The data situation is difficult here. Neither the National Education Panel nor newer parts of PISA ask about the social origin of the teachers. At least the authors were able to use older data from the PISA study from 2003 and 2004 to investigate their question using mathematics teachers in secondary schools and high schools who taught in grades 9 and 10. Based on their educational background, the students were asked whether their teachers were particularly interested in them and whether they would give them any special help. The result is astonishing: all students, regardless of their educational background, perceived differences in the teachers' support behavior depending on their social background.

However, working-class students seem to feel better supported by teachers from higher social classes, not socially similar. This also applies to students from these higher social classes. In general, regardless of their origin, students felt less supported by teachers from working-class families. And in terms of their math skills, these students did not benefit from a socially similar teacher. According to the conclusion of the study, their social origin is simply irrelevant for the skills and grades of the students.

You have to know that 29 percent of all teachers in the sample of this study stated that they came from a working-class family, and another 65 percent had a family without an academic background. The teaching profession is therefore a social advancement profession. According to their origins, these teachers may still have something to do with the “workers”, but now they are teachers, and this profession includes the professional neutrality they have learned towards the educational background of their students. But why do students feel less supported by teachers of lower origins regardless of their social background? The authors call this finding surprising and follow the recommendation that it is better to sensitize all teachers to evaluation biases instead of using "socially suitable" teachers for disadvantaged students.

What might shape teachers with a low educational background is a typical climber habitus with virtues that are particularly important for them, such as "diligence, effort and discipline".

In addition, the average age of teachers in 2004 when this data was collected was 56 years.

Perhaps these virtues are no longer in demand in today's school?

In any case, this is exactly how they were perceived by the students.