Assess the claim that 'the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society'
Functionalists believe that education is a value consensus, which means that the majority of a society agree with this statement. For example, inadvertently, people in the UK agree that wearing clothes is a norm as is education. Education has many purposes such as secondary socialisation of children and allocation of roles, because of the meritocracy which education is also seen as.
Functionalists, like Durkheim, believe that teaching about history in schools creates a link between the individual and society. This link allows the individual to feel 'part' of the society and therefore is more likely to support this. For example, in the U.S children are taught about the founding fathers and give the pledge of allegiance daily. Also, this is used with religion, in the U.K many schools says prayers and sing hymns and other religious songs. This, often, instils the idea of religion into the child's mind and it becomes a part of the child. However, teachings such as these can be seen as deviant and unwanted by parents because of how these things are treated as 'norms' whereas they might not be in the home. This creates social solidarity because of the increased number of shared 'norms and values'.
Furthermore, Parsons says that school is the bridge between family and the wider society. Because in the family you are treated as an individual based upon particularistic traits whereas in society you are based on your merits. School is a blend between the two and allows a consensus of your merits and your personality. However, that blend is more between students and students than students and teachers. Teachers base students more on their merits, hence the meritocracy of school and the wider society as it is a quicker and easier way to assess people. This lead to the beginning of the education triage where pupils where 'streamed' into classes of varying difficulty...
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