Patricia L. Johnson
September 26, 2011
Sociological Theories and Education
In the world there are many types of scientific pursuits that try and make sense of all the different things that happen to people and how it affects them, sociology is but one of them. Merriam-Webster defines sociology as “the science of society, social institutions, and social relationships; specifically: the systematic study of the development, structure, interaction, and collective behavior of organized groups of human beings.” (2011) Simply put, sociology is a way of studying what, how, and why people do the things that they choose to do. In sociology there are three well established theories, functionalist, conflict, and social interactionism, each of which gives a different way of looking at society. Functionalist theory basically suggests that society is made up of interconnected institutions and supports strength through social harmony. (Vissing, 2011) Conflict theorist make the case that there is an ordered system of inequality that is beneficial to the people and organizations that have more power and resources than others. (Vissing, 2011) The third theory, that of symbolic interactionism that focuses on the way that meaning comes about through social interactions and symbols. (Marshall, 1998) In this paper, the focus will be on one specific social institution or a large social organization like religion, education, healthcare, etc. (Vissing, 2011) and for the purposes of this paper education will be the primary focus. Sociological theories have had a major impact on the institution of education; in this paper they will be examined and evidence will be provided to support this.
In this section of the paper, the institution of education will be looked at from a functionalist perspective. Education is but one part of society and is key in developing strong and productive members of society. The system is there to prepare the youth of this country to take over the occupations and leadership positions that society needs. (Vissing, 2011) It is vital that young people are prepared for what faces them in the world that exists beyond the classroom or school yard. If, for some reason, students are not adequately prepared for the struggles life poses they will eventually become a burden instead of being helpful, productive members of society. The school system in this country now puts great emphasis on frequent testing in order to monitor student progress. Testing is carried out as normal quizzes and chapter/unit tests, what is called Benchmark testing at the end of each grading period, and as standardized tests like the CRCT or Criterion Referenced Competency Test. It is thought that by using frequent monitoring techniques that the system can recognize earlier which students need further remediation on the various subjects and provides them with that in a much timelier manner than was done in previous years. In addition to the testing administered in the classrooms, newer programs like the Accelerated Reader or AR program monitor the reading progress of students by allowing them to borrow books from their school library and then, after reading them, taking a short comprehension test to see if the understood what they read. The Accelerated Reader program encourages children to read and allows them to earn rewards for meeting goals in reading set up by their teachers and library staff. Also, schools are doing more to identify students with emotional problems, behavior disorders, and learning disorders earlier than in the past. School psychologists or special and regular education teachers are often asked to give students tests or conduct rating surveys such as the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, Second Edition (KTEA-II), the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2), and the Emotional and Behavior Problem Scale-Second Edition (EBPS-2). These...