Functionalist Views on the Role of the Education System

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Explain what is meant by ‘the myth of meritocracy’. (3) This refers to the Marxist view that the appearance that rewards are based on merit in education and society as a whole is not true – it is an example of false consciousness which makes society seem fair and inequalities seem justified. Suggest 3 ways in which education benefits society. (6) It promotes consensus by integrating students into the norms and values of society, such as teaching the value of punctuality and individual achievement. (Socialisation function) It gives people the skills and attitudes which are needed by employers such as literacy, numeracy and computer skills. (Economic function). Qualifications acquired in school helps to sift people into the jobs best suited to their abilities. (Selection function)

Outline post-modernist views of the role of education. (8+4) Post Modernists argue that education needs to be more diverse & flexible to meet ever-changing individual and community needs. Hence they emphasise ‘personalised’ education rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Education needs to develop self-motivation, creativity and transferable skills to increase ‘flexible specialisation’.

It needs to emphasise ‘life-long learning’ to allow individuals to up-grade skills in response to the changing needs of the economy.

E.g Usher (’97) & Thompson (’92) reject Bowles & Gintis’ ‘Correspondence Theory’, arguing that the diversity of the post-modern education system, responsive to the different needs of individuals and groups, actually empowers rather than oppresses.

However this approach may be seen to overemphasise diversity – what about the ‘national curriculum’ and increasing direction from central government? It also ignores the extent of inequalities – not everyone has the same choices. Assess Marxist views of the role of education (8+12)

Opening Paragraph: Brief description of general Marxist view of education...
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