I'm teaching sociology of education this semester at an elite institution. An important component in all my classes is social inequality. This is no less the case in soc. of ed., but it's different this time.
Teaching race and ethnicity at the same institution last semester, I was not uncomfortable teaching about inequality - it comes with the turf in a class like that, and I had a lot of minority students in my class who already understood structural inequality from personal experience.
This semester is different. This semester I am teaching conflict theory to a room full of elites, and I think that is beginning to dawn on them. You can't read Collins' discussion of functionalism and conflict theory and miss his point that students who attend elite institutions often get elite jobs.
I know that I'm not teaching this material differently than I would have at my last institution (a large state school that was not academically elite, although you could make an argument about athletic elitism). However, I realize there's a change inside me. There's a part of me that really wants them to get that they are privileged. That yes, they worked hard to get where they are, but that 1) for many of them, they had significant advantages in getting here,* and 2) that their degrees are going to be valued to a much greater extent than the majority of college graduates.
I have never felt that my job in the classroom was to be an activist, and I certainly don't include activism in my courses, but that's what I feel like right now. And I'm wondering 1) if anyone else has felt the same way from time to time, and 2) what you've done about it.
*To help them get this, I pull out the "sociology of me," and mention that it is no great surprise that I have a Ph.D., given that my father is an M.D., and my mother has a B.S.