Functionalists View of Education

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Outline and assess the functionalist’s view of education

Functionalists look at how society works in a scientific way to see how it works. They have similar ideas about education too. There are three main functions. The first is socialisation. Education is a source of secondary socialisation. It helps to teach young people values, norms equality and achievement. Schools are the main part of a child’s day and therefore influence them greatly. The second is learning skills. When in education, you learn a number of skills such as numeracy and literacy. This has now been made compulsory to ensure young people are getting the best qualification of their ability. This will result in them getting the grades they need and having jobs best suited to them. The final one is the allocation of roles. There is said to be a fair system which allocates the right people for the right job. This is all based on their skills and qualification. Therefore, everyone has a fair opportunity.

Durkheim is a sociologist who compared schools to a miniature society. He believed that social solidarity, social order and meritocracy are learned through education to make people function right through society. Social solidarity happens when the children are made to work in a team or because they wear uniforms. If helps us feel like we belong in the community. However, it also makes people feel less of an individual and more of a group and responsibility is then taken away from them as they feel there are a number of people responsible for wrong doing. The second is social order. There is a hierarchy in schools which shows us some people are more important. Durkheim suggested that schools area small society. The final point is meritocracy. Schools provide us with a chance to learn the skills we need to earn a desirable job. They pass on the ideas of division of labour and such things. This is when role allocation takes place. It sorts out people to the jobs they are best suited.

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