Social Reproduction, Cultural Capital and Habitus: How I Defeated the Odds

In my recent doctoral class at Northeastern University, I was introduced to the theory of reproduction framework for the first time. The major contributors to the framework were the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and the American sociologists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis. The framework consists of Bourdieu’s theory of reproduction which states that the student’s social class pre-determines his/her level of school/workplace success and that they will probably wind up in the similar social class/occupations as their parents. Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis also contributed to the framework by claiming that the American theory of meritocracy does not exist.

In a nutshell, the framework states that the true function of the schools is to prepare students to assume a job in the same socio-economic status as their parents. Another part claims that the American theory of meritocracy in which people are rewarded based on their own merits is a myth. The framework uses the terms, “cultural capitol” and “habitus” to describe the dominant social classes of any society and assert that schools use these as a benchmark to reward school success and in this process reject the culture of all other social classes.

The term “cultural capitol” describes the language patterns, ideologies, skills, disposition, and interests of the dominant social classes. The term “habitus” describes the success-oriented mindsets and behaviors that the upper classes have toward institutional life and their educational/workplace aspirations. The framework also theorizes that students being raised in poverty cannot inherit either the habitus nor cultural capital of the dominant classes, therefore they are already behind before they start school and are less likely to pursue college bound tracks.

The class also introduced me to my first ethnography titled, “Ain’t no making it” by Jay MacLeod. This book examines the lives of two peer-groups of male teens growing up in US public housing projects in the 1980s’. One group was black and the other white. Most the black peer-group teen’s family’s valued schooling highly, these students behaved well in school, believed in the theory of meritocracy and graduated from high school. In contrast, most of the white student peer-group dropped out of high school, they behaved badly in school and had families that did not value schooling highly. Unfortunately, the majority of the members of both groups ended in dead-end unstable menial jobs during their adult lives.

I am so happy that I was not aware of any of this as I was growing up in the South Bronx section of New York City which is also known as the Arson capital of the World and was well known for it’s very high crime rate. For me, living in the projects would have been a step up. I am first generation born American born to a family from Puerto Rico. My father only completed the sixth grade and mother only completed the third grade. They were both raised on farms in Puerto Rico and had to drop out of school to help work the farms. My mom only spoke Spanish and my dad spoke both English and Spanish. However, in an effort to communicate with my mom, only Spanish was spoken in my home until I started Kindergarten and learned English after my first 6 months.

Only my father worked in my home and he was lucky enough to start off as a cook at the Sheridon Hotel and did so well that they sent him to chef school. Later on he managed to get a job as a chef at the Waldolf Astoria hotel. Like the black student peer-group in the book described above, my parents valued schooling highly and expected my sisters and I to behave well in school. They also expected us to do our homework and cooperate with our teachers. They also believed in the theory of meritocracy.

To make a long story short, there were two actions that I initiated on my own that helped me to beat the odds and that kept me from falling into the trap of social reproduction:

1. In 1964, I was a 4th grader and I found the book, “Diane Stories” by Betty Cavanna, in my school library. I loved this novel about an upper white middle class teenage girl growing up in the suburbs. I read the approximately 400-page book over and over. I started acting like her, dressing like her, adopting her patterns of speech and started to imitate the writing style in the book. Little did I realize that until now I was really teaching myself some of the cultural capital of the dominant classes.

2. In 1965, I was a 5th grader and was lucky enough to find the book, “Manchild in the Promised Land” by Claude Brown, also in my school library. I read the book, which was about a former gang member from Harlem who grew up and become an attorney. I was so inspired by the book that I read it over and over again. I decided right then and there, that if he came from that type of background and became very successful as an adult, then I was going to do it also. I also decided that I wanted to attend college someday so I started to pay more attention to my schoolwork and to dream big.

In elementary school, my transformation soon started to pay off. My teachers started to notice that I stood out from the other students in behavior, speech patterns, school related attitudes and writing style. Therefore, they started to recommend me for higher ability tracks. By the time, I started 10th grade, the teachers in my NYC high school started to question me as to whether I was really from a Puerto Rican family and really lived in the South Bronx. At that time, NYC changed their district zoning and I got assigned to Christopher Columbus HS, which was located in an upper middle class neighborhood. I told them that my school records were correct. I realize now that the reason for their questions was that I acted like the upper middle class teenagers, which attended the school instead of a teenager from the South Bronx.

I graduated from high school and applied, attended and graduated from a state university in Florida. Later on, after a few careers in social work and the legal field, I became a K-12 educator after earning my certification under an alternative certification program. I then earned a Masters Degree and transitioned to teaching at the college level. I am so happy that I took this class and finally realized the sociological explanations behind my unusual success; I guess it is never too late to learn new things.

Installing PowerPrep GRE Software under Vista OS

After an endless search using Google and Bing on how to install PowerPrep GRE software on my older son’s computer which uses the Vista Operating System, I have found bits and pieces on the puzzle on various websites. However, I did not find the entire solution anywhere.

Therefore, I played with the many pieces of the puzzle solution that I found, added a few of my own and finally came up with a complete solution to this problem.

I have decided to share this solution in this blog as I know that many college seniors to be, have the summer off right now and would probably like to spend some time preparing for their GRE exams which is required for admission to many graduate schools.

First download and install the great WinRar compression utility software from this site:

It is free to use and try for 40 days.

Now, download the PowerPrep GRE test prep software from this site:

Ignore the install instructions listed there as they only work if your operating system is Windows XP operating system or below.

Instead, right click on the file and click on,”RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR”.


Right click on it again and click on, “PROPERTIES”. Then click on the COMPATIBILITY tab on the top.

Now click on the square next to COMPATIBILITY mode so that a check-mark appears in the square. Click on the arrow below it and select, “Windows 2000”. Now click on the squares next to, RUN in 640 x 480 screen resolution and Disable Desktop Composition so that check-marks appears in the squares, Now click on APPLY and then OK.

Now right click on the file PGRE31 and select, “OPEN WITH WinRAR”. It is very important not to extract the files with another other program. Only the WinRAR compression utility will extract the files using the correct length names that will allow the program to work and install in compatibility mode.


Select CLOSE on the window that appears.

As  soon as you close the window, the window shown below will appear. Now double click on the yellow folder shown in the window right underneath the word, “NAME” and the green arrow. Then select \Disk1 and then click on, “EXTRACT TO”, right under the main menu on top of the program.

A window will appear like the one shown below asking you where to save it to, select the DESKTOP and click on OK..

The software will create a folder called PPGRE31 and extract all files to that folder. Now find the folder, double click it and you should see another folder called DISK 1. Double click on it. You should now see a window like this one.

Close the folders and now go to the start menu and click on RESTART. Press the F8 key just as your computer is restarting. Select, “Restart in safe mode with Networking”.

When the computer finishes booting, right click on the icon of my Computer icon and select,” EXPLORE”. At the top of the screen, click the arrow pointing down to select, DESKTOP.


If it does not appear on the list, just type next to the right arrow,” \DESKTOP “. The following steps were also completed earlier in this guide and are repeated here and applied to a totally different file this time. This new file may or may not have inherited the same settings from the first time these instructions were followed.

Now scroll down and find the PPGRE31 folder and double click on it. Then find the folder named, “DISK 1″ double click on it and now right click on the file named,” SETUP” with the green color icon.

Click on,”RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR”. Right click on it again and click on, “PROPERTIES”. Then click on the COMPATIBILITY tab on the top. Now click on the square next to COMPATIBILITY mode so that a check-mark appears in the square.

Click on the arrow below it and select, “Windows 2000”. Now click on the squares next to, RUN in 640 x 480 screen resolution and Disable Desktop Composition so that check-marks appears in the squares, Now click on APPLY and then OK. Now double click on Setup and your software should install correctly. Now restart your computer in regular mode.

Now go to PROGRAMS, then click on POWERPREP and then on GRE_POWER_PREP. Your program will start, your screen resolution will change a bit and you can now run this software correctly.

If you followed this blog and the instructions worked for you, please consider leaving a message on this blog.

Solution for ATI Catalyst Driver Issue – Cannot Install – Error: INF File Not Found

Spent most of the morning today trying to figure out why my son kept getting a blue screen of death at random times while trying to watch a downloaded video or play any of this computer games. Other times, the problem would occur while my son was not even on his computer and the computer was in sleep mode. This problem has been happening on and off for months.

Occasionally, he also gets a message saying that his ATI Catalyst Driver was out of date and had to be updated. His desktop computer is a Gateway Model # GT5662, which comes with an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT, 256 MB PCI video card.

After thinking about this problem, I suspected that the video driver that the Windows Vista 32 bit Operating System UPDATE utility had downloaded and suggested that my son install to replace the driver his computer came with, was not the right driver for his computer. I decided to go to the Gateway site to investigate whether my suspicion was correct.

I found out that the Gateway site had another video driver for download that was different from the one that my son was using. It also turns out that unfortunately, this driver was not a Windows digitally signed driver. Therefore, there was no way that the Windows Vista UPDATE utility could get it for us.

I decided to download it myself and try to install it. You can get the driver at this site: It is considered one of the the ATI Catalyst drivers and downloads automatically with the Catalyst Manager Control Center software that must be installed at the same time as the driver. After downloading, it must be extracted and stored in the C:\cabs folder.

Well, I first un-installed my son’s current driver, (which at the time that it was downloaded a long time ago was named, “9-6_vista32_win7_32_dd.exe”) using the PROGRAMS AND FEATURES control panel. The name of the file shows up simply as, “ATI”. At this time, Windows automatically substituted the generic VGA video driver.

I then installed the driver package from the Gateway site by going to the C:\cabs folder and clicking on the folder titled, “D20235001-001.exe” and then clicking on the SETUP file. The install of the Catalyst Manager Control Center part of the package installed corrected but I then got a message that the driver itself could not install because an INF file could not be found.

Well, the main part of every driver is a file that ends with .INF and without it, nothing can be installed at all. As a matter of fact, if you happen to see one, you can usually just right click on it and a menu will appear that gives you several options. One of the options will state, “INSTALL” and if you click on it, that will install whatever driver it was supposed to install. Therefore, installing this package seemed to be a waste of time. Thinking that maybe the problem occurred because something went wrong during the first install, I then un-installed it using the using the PROGRAMS AND FEATURES control panel and re-installed it again, however I got the same message.

I started to research this problem and found out that it was very common. I found many tech supports forums where people were posting that they were at wits end dealing with this problem and that the Gateway tech support department referred them to the ATI tech support department and vise-versus. Some people even posted that they had given up trying to get help on how to fix the problem and just bought video cards from another company, installed them and were using the new cards instead.

I started to think about solutions to this problem that did not involve using the downloaded installer package to install anything. I remembered that in the early WINDOWS operating system days, I used to update my drivers using the DEVICE MANAGER control panel. I remembered that Vista still had the same control panel.

Therefore, I decided to try to install this driver using the DEVICE MANAGER. I selected the VGA driver, right clicked on it and clicked on the UPGRADE option. As the UPGRADE session started, the first step gave me the option to search the Internet or my own computer for the driver, I chose my computer. The next step gave me the option to browse my hard drive and chose the driver I wanted, I browsed and selected the driver folder from the C:\Cabs folder mentioned above. It started the process of installing it, however I got a message at the end stating that it could not install it because the driver was not an official Windows digitally signed driver.

I started to research this new problem to find instructions for getting around this. I found that there was a option for turning this Windows Vista feature off on this site: .

In a nutshell, the computer just needed to be rebooted with the F8 key pressed at start-up. This provides the computer user with a long list of boot options. One of the options states,” DISABLE FORCED DRIVER SIGNING”. So, I just selected it and continued booting. When the computer finished booting, I tried the above technique for installing the driver again. Wow, I was so shocked when it worked and I did not even have to un-install the Catalyst Manager Control Center software first or at all.

I then started to Google the actual driver that my son was using erroneously. It was indeed a digitally signed Windows driver from the ATI site but not one meant for our computer which was a Gateway brand one. It is for the same type of ATI video card that my son’s computer has, however the driver was not meant to run with all of the other Gateway propriety hardware. I imagine that this is why sometimes it played nice with the other hardware and other times, it decided to quit playing at all. 🙂

So far the computer has been working well this afternoon. I really hope it continues to work well. I did advise my son not to accept any new video drivers from the Windows Vista UPDATE Utility. To my surprise, just a few hours after I fixed the problem, my son informed me that again, the Windows Vista UPDATE utility found yet another video driver for my son to install.

I do plan to update this blog and possibly provide new troubleshooting ideas if the problem occurs again. In the meantime, hope this solution can help someone overcome this problem without having to invest money in a new video card. Please consider leaving a comment if this blog has helped you.

A Great Animoto Story

As a usual assignment, my Introduction to Computers class needs to create a multimedia presentation on one of the topics covered in the class and embed the presentation into their blogs.

The students usually enjoy this assignment very much especially since I always have them use the Animoto Multimedia Web 2.0 site is which is free to use and also provides royalty free music that can added to the presentation. If you are not familiar with this site, check it out here: Http://

Well, 2 weeks ago during the last class day, one of my students had a wonderful story to share with me. Apparently for the last two years, he has had a business working from home creating personal memory videos for people to show at anniversaries, retirement and weddings parties and memorial videos for funerals.

Lately he has been unable to keep up with the demand and was planning to hire someone to help him out with his business. He had been using a movie editing software to create the movies which had a really high learning curve and is not very user friendly. Therefore, it was a very time consuming task to create each video.

He wanted me to know that I really helped his business out tremendously since one of the options on the Animoto site allow businesses to buy a yearly membership and use the site for business purposes.

He bought a years membership and since then has been able to cut the amount of time he spends to create the videos in half and no longer plans to hire anyone to help him out. He has also managed to double his productivity.

Wow, this made my whole day. Not only had I educated the student as far as Computers are concerned, but by introducing him to this site, I was able to help his personal business grow.

I guess educators will sometimes will never know the full implications of an ordinary class assignment. In this case, my assignment did more for this student than I ever imagined. It is stories like this that just reinforce my love for teaching.

Human Trafficking of Children in Fayetteville, NC???

As many of you know, I am a fan of True Crime books. Just yesterday, I was browsing for new true crime books to buy. While I was browsing, I happen to see a book about a rescue of 37 girls, ages 5 to 14 from Cambodia whom were being held in a brothel against their will for money making purposes. The name of the book is,”Terrify No More” by Gary Haugen.

Here is a picture of the cover of the book:

I quickly decided to buy it but as you know, Amazon encourages people to buy more things to get free shipping and handling. So, I browsed all books in this topic and ordered a total of three books on this subject. I was pleased to get an email today telling me that my order had already  shipped and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of these books. I was also thinking that while Human Trafficking does occur in the US every once in a while, it was a problem that did not involve children as young as five years old.

Therefore, you can imagine my shock and horror when I saw the headline shown here: “Did North Carolina mom hand over five-year-old daughter for prostitution?

At first I was in denial hoping that this was a tabloid type website. I quickly did another search for this story and found out that it was really an actual case happening right here in the US. Some of the reports are also stating that she might have been sold to a Pedophile ring.

Omg, what is wrong with some people? I just cannot understand how a mother can turn over a precious 5 year old little girl for this purpose especially here in the land of the free and the brave. I also do not understand why this case is not getting more media attention. In my opinion, Google show have this case featured as one of their top stories.

I will pray that the police find this little girl soon and arrest everyone involved in her disappearance. I am hoping that my readers will join me in prayer.

Here is a video on this case which is available for free embedding from this site;

Update: 11-16-2009 Police are now looking for the girl’s body and I am just so heartbroken:

2nd update: 11-16-2009 Girl found dead:

This is so incredibly sad. Please keep this little girl’s family in your thoughts and prayers.

3rd update: Nov. 18th, 2009

Today I decided to do yet another search on the topic of human trafficking in the US. I quickly got another shock when I came across this article:

North Carolina is the Prime Destination for Human Trafficking in the US ??

Wow, what an education I seemed to have acquired quickly. The story also states that around 200,000 children in the US are at risk of getting trafficked into the sex industry every year.

Here is a video that is freely available for embedding on this same site:

I would have say that the information in this video is just so so shocking and that this is a real wake-up call for me. Human Trafficking is not just mostly a third world country problem as I originally thought. I hope to get more educated on this subject so I can become more aware of my surroundings and hopefully someday I can make a difference in someone’s life.

My Search for Student Blog Evaluation Rubrics

I currently have one of my freshman level classes blogging and doing other web2.0 type activities to earn 40% of their class grades. I have thought about how I should grade the blogs and decided to ask my Twitter Personal Learning Network (PLN) for help.

Received a response from Professor Wendy Drexler whom is teaching a graduate level class and she shared her rubric blog checklist with me. I thought it was pretty good but it did not fit my needs as her class was blogging to earn their participation grade. I then decided to do a little research to see what I could find.

I found several great rubrics which were freely shared and after sharing them with Professor Wendy Drexler, I decided to blog and share them with others.

Here were my findings:

From Professor Barbara Nixon’s blog here whom I follow on Twitter:

Professor Barbara Nixon demonstrates how she uses Google Forms to allow her students to self evaluate their own blogs before she grades them. Great idea, I will be revising this for my own class.

She also provides a link to the actual rubric that she will use to grade her student’s blog. Again, another awesome idea which I will adopt.

Here is a blog rubric from another professor who teaches, “Using Tech in Education” at a University.

Also found another blog rubric used in an Education class at the Univ of Regina. I later found out that I do follow Professor Alec Courosa who created this rubric, on Twitter.

Here is another provided by a Tech ed consultant, Tony Vincent for free on his site here

Lastly, I found another freely shared rubric from
this site which is a higher education rubric creation site.

I plan to revise one of these to use with my class. As you can already see, most of these resources came from the wonderful colleagues that I follow on Twitter. I cannot say this enough, I have learned so much from my PLN and the members just rock!! Hope this collection helps someone find the perfect rubric for grading their student’s blogs.

Short Student Assignment Yields Lots of Learning

Last week, I decided to make up a very small assignment for my college level Multimedia Presentations Class. The assignment was to use a royalty free picture site such as Http:// to find 10 Jpg formatted photos in a topic relating to multimedia. For example: 10 photos of musical instruments to represent sound.

They were supposed to download them to their desktop and then use the MS Paint software to save 2 each in the following formats, Tiff, Gif, Png, Monochome BMP and regular BMP. Our book chapter concerning graphics had discussed all of these. After converting these, they were to use their Google sites , create a new page and insert a table that would display one photo in each cell.

Well, at first I was thinking that this assignment was very elementary and probably an insult to their level of graphics related knowledge because most students in this class were digital media majors. However, I was in for a big surprise.

As the students started working on this assignment, one student called me over.  She had just converted the first photo to a Gif format. She asked me why the image did not look as good as before and seemed blurry.

Well, this gave me the opportunity to tell her and the class that the Gif format should never be used for regular photos. It should only be used for logos, thumbnails and small animated images. It had a limit of only 256 colors which were not enough to create sharp looking photos.

The next student quickly called me over and asked me why the photo she just converted to the Monochrome BMP  format was now black and white. I quickly told her and the class that this was exactly what Monochrome BMP format was supposed to do.

Still another student called me to her workstation and asked why she could not upload the two .Tiff format images to her Google site to insert into her table. This gave me the opportunity to tell the class that when you convert a .jpg to a .tiff format, the image sometimes gets corrupted and that is why it would not upload.

Of course, most of this information was covered in the chapter in our book but I guess that the information did not hit home until they actually completed the hands on assignment.

So I guess I learned a valuable lesson.  I should never overestimate what my students already know as doing so might result in a missed opportunity for my students to learn new things. I am now more confident that none of the students are going to miss questions about these topics during the midterm exam.

Ode to Michael Jackson

If you read my 7 Meme blog, you might remember that I grew up in the South Bronx. What I did not reveal in the blog was that my family was only one of two Hispanic families living in the building where I lived. All of the other families were African American. Therefore, I grew up listening to Motown music and knew who the Jackson 5 were by the time I was 8 years old and in 4th grade.

During that time, the Jackson 5 were the most talked about and admired music group in my elementary school and in the neighborhood where I lived. All of the kids in my class and I knew the names of all the boys in the group by heart. Everyone would bring magazines that were popular at the time to school so they could share articles of the amazing Jackson 5. All of the boys in my school wanted to dress like the Jackson 5 and all of the children wanted to dance like them.

Informal street dances were very common in my neighborhood at the time and the Jackson 5 music would be played frequently. To the kids in my neighborhood, the Jackson 5 were our heroes and there was nothing that would make us happier then dancing to one of their songs.

I was on a European vacation when I heard the breaking news of Michael Jackson’s death. I turned on my cruise ship room TV and there on CNN was the headline informing everyone of his death. I read the headline aloud. My 2 sons and husband were shocked. The first thing my oldest son said was, ” I wish I could post on my forums right now”. I responded, “I wish I was able to Tweet right now”.

I guess our reaction was typical since I read on Google news later that the Internet was overwhelmed with people online trying to get information about his death and communicating with others about it: I also read, that Google thought they were being attacked by all the searches for Michael Jackson:

Well, we were not able to go online along with the rest of the world because we had pre-paid for an expensive all day excursion which was non refundable so we proceeded with our original plans for the day.

Since then, the news of his recent death has profoundly effected me in many ways. I have found myself crying on and off and talking about him to anyone that will listen. I have been listening to his music on YouTube, downloading many of his music videos from itunes for my iPod touch and reading everything I can about his life and death.

I was just telling my family at dinner time tonight that many people all over the world are grieving for him right now. These are people of all different colors, nationalities, and religions. That it was amazing and rare for one person to cause so much international grief and manage to break down so many barriers that keep people who are different from communicating with each other. I also mentioned to them that I wished I lived closer to LA than I do as I would love to attend the public memorial that is being planned for him some time next week :

As I was talking to my family, I realized that there is magic and power in music.  That beautiful music has the ability to make people happier when they are already feeling good and lift people’s spirits who are feeling down. Hence, moments listening to and or dancing to great music, create powerful memories in people’s lives and a connection with the person who wrote and or sang the songs.  So I guess that music is really an extraordinary universal language.

So Michael, if you can read this from the beyond, I want you to know that you will live in my heart forever. I will never forget you or your music. Thanks for lifting my spirits on days when I did not think I could make it through. Thanks for making me feel happier when I was already feeling good. Also, regardless of what people may say about you, I have always felt you were 100% innocent of any wrong doing and had such a pure heart and great spirit. As far as I am concerned, you have always radiated both inner and outer beauty.  I hope that you rest in peace and perhaps someday, I will meet you on the other side.

Here is a picture of Michael Jackson taken by Time’s Magazine in May of 1986 and provided free to the public for non commercial use. He is attending an awards ceremony where he got a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records for being the person that has given the most money to children charities:


Cat Happy Days Are Here Again