Using Material From Item A And Elsewhere, Asses The Contribution Of Functionalism To Our Understanding Of The Role Of Education

618 words - 3 pages

Functionalists take a consensus view of the role of education. They see it as performing three important functions; socialisation into the shared culture, equipping individuals with work skills for the division of labour, and selection for work roles. Education is organised on meritocratic principles and reward pupils’ ability, not their social background.

Functionalists take a very positive view of education. They see it as a form of secondary socialisation essential to the maintenance of society. it performs vital social functions, including transmitting shared norms and values and equipping pupils with the knowledge, skills and habits needed for work. School also acts as a bridge between the family and the world of work, reflecting the values of equal opportunity and individual achievement found in wider society. it gives everyone an equal chance of discovering and developing their talents. Education also sifts and sorts individuals, allocating them their future ...view middle of the document...

The aims of education in functionalism are to maintain social stability, keep society in consensus and resolve any conflict. Durkheim and Parsons saw education as an essential agency of socialisation whose function is to transmit common values to the next generation. Parsons argued that schools act as a bridge between the family and a wide society within the role of education being to promote universal values such as achievement, individuation, competition and equal opportunities. Education is the main secondary agent of socialisation, family being the primary agent. In advanced industrial society we are judged in terms of achieved status and universalistic values. That is to say we are judged in terms of what we achieve and schools prepare us for this.

Not everyone agrees with the functionalist approach of the role of education. There is evidence that shows equal opportunity in education does not exist. For example achievement is greatly influenced by class background rather than ability. Melvin Tumin criticises Davis and Moore for putting forward a circular argument, the argument was that you know that your job is highly rewarded , and its more highly rewarded than others because they are more important. Functionalists see education as a process that instils the shared values of society as a whole, but marxists argue that education in capitalist society only transmits the ideology of minority, the ruling class. Interactionist Dennis Wrong argues that functionalists have an ‘over-socialised view’ of people as mere puppets of society. functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all they are taught and never reject the school’s values.

There are processes within the education system that do not provide equal opportunities. For example, cream skimming, which is when schools select higher ability pupils, who gain the best results and cost less to teach. Also silt-shifting, this is where pupils with learning difficulties are off-loaded to the least popular schools, these pupils are expensive to teach and get poor results.

The functionalist view of the role of education is highly positive and they see education as performing important functions to socialisation. Although many other sociologists and interactionists criticises the functionalists view.

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