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Using Material From Item A And Elsewhere, Assess The View That The Main Function Of The Education System Is To Reproduce And Legitimise Social Inequalities

2354 words - 10 pages

4) Education is an aspect of socialisation which involves the acquisition of knowledge and learning of skills. It shapes our beliefs and moral values through a systematic formal transmission. Education is said to be an integral function of society, as it provides a contributory characteristic which helps to maintain and adapt society and it’s values

Before the 1960’s, education was taught through a system known as the ‘Tripartite’ system. This involved all children at the age of eleven undertaking an exam in order to ascertain individual ability in order to separate the children into streams of ability and assign them to what was believed to be the most appropriate school. Those ...view middle of the document...

It allowed children to mix from all social backgrounds and therefore provided equal opportunity.

Although this system has been highly criticised since it was first introduced there are a number of factors which imply and suggest that although the comprehensive system is less diverse than the tripartite, it still does little to engender social equality if anything, serves to reinforce class inequality. According to the Marxist Sociologist, Bowles and Gintis (Schooling in Capitalist America, 1976), education will always what the curriculum entails and therefore continuously reinforce and reproduce their class status as the system is designed by themselves for themselves, leaving the working class powerless. In any industrial capitalist society there is a rigid hierarchy of authority, this is evident in the workplace, in society and in its values which are instilled in members of society at any early age – at school. For example in the workplace; Shareholders, Directors, Managers, professionals, technical staff, white collar workers down to manual employees; one being answerable to the next, but at the top of the ladder, the shareholders who own and control the entire company.
Within the workplace there is a fragmentation of tasks. Due to the structure of the work itself the tasks become mundane, provide little, if any scope for initiative, responsibility and judgement. Therefore the employee works purely for economic needs rather than actual interest and the elite, the owners of the company maintain profit gain and control.

This organisation of production in capitalist society can be seen as reflected in the structure of the education system. The fragmentation of tasks equalling to the short lessons. There is very little time in school to undertake a deep comprehensive study of each particular subject simply due to the short time in which it is supposedly taught, consequently leaving much of the study to outward influences like extra tutoring, homework etc. Activities which usually can only be provided by the middle and upper classes due to economic affluence. The education system has been seen as reinforcing and legitimising social inequality through its emphasis on the values of discipline and authority. These are imperative for upholding wider inequalities and make sure that the workers do not rebel against owners of capitalists, nor do the working class attempt to change the system that does not work for them.

According to Bowles and Gintis, the pupil is powerless to the choice of subjects which they learn and how they are taught. They claim that the child learns to study at school to achieve good grades because that will provide them with a better job when they leave rather than learning for learnings’ sake. A similar picture is seen in the workplace, the employee works in a meaningless job for financial necessity rather than personal enjoyment. Thus, there is alienation at school and work between means and end.

Bowles and Gintis...

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