Functionalism and Education
Evaluate Functionalists approach to education
Functionalists believe that the educational system is a positive educational experience, which benefits both children and society. It socialises young people into cultural values, such as achievement, individualism and equality of opportunity. Education is a secondary agency of socialisation, teaching the norms and values of achieved status of the wider world. Parsons described education as a bridge between family and society. The most important example is teaching the value of meritocracy. At home, family members get their status for being the oldest whereas in society they get their status through achievements. Skills provision is also important as education teaches skills needed for the economy for example literacy and numeracy needed for particular occupations. Role allocation plays an essential role in education. Davis and Moore argue that the main function of education is that it allocates students to the most appropriate jobs for their talents using examinations and qualifications, meaning that the most important jobs are done by the most able people. This function therefore believes that the education system is meritocratic. The basic principles of functionalism are body analogy (all parts of society benefit the whole), value consensus (society is harmonious) and social solidarity (people in society share a similar identity). Durkheim saw the main function of education as following the society’s norms and values. It is vital for society to create social solidarity which involves an individual's commitment to society, a sense of belonging and a feeling that a society is more important than just an individual itself. According to Durkheim, education provides a link between the individual and society. The increasing tendency towards individualism in society can lead to anomie (a state of normlessness). The New Right however criticise the skills and knowledge taught in schools and...
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