The role of education is to socialise young people into their future roles. Discuss to what extent this is true.
The education system is one of the most influential institutions throughout society. Pupils from ages 5 to a minimum of age 16 are bombarded with a vast amount of knowledge, attitudes and skills which are acquired either through set lessons or the hidden curriculum which explains the processes involved in being ’schooled’ and the various interactions which take place whilst in school. State education was made compulsory in Britain in 1880 for children up to the age of 10 and this was introduced by the Forster’s 1870 Education act where around 4000 schools were seen as inadequate and therefore were taken over by a school board in order to increase the effectiveness of education. The Fisher Education Act was to follow this in 1918 which made the state responsible for secondary education and attendance was made compulsory up to the age of 14. In addition to this further on in 1947 the school leaving age was raised to 15, then raised again in 1972 to 16. There are many different and contrasting sociological perspectives to education and throughout this essay I shall be discussing these.
The functionalist approach to education believes that education in fact has 3 broad functions: socialization, skills provision and role allocation. Socialization is simply states that education helps to maintain society by socializing young people into key cultural values, such as achievement, competition, equality of opportunity, social solidarity, democracy and religious morality. Emile Durkheim was particularly concerned that education should emphasize the moral responsibilities that members of society had towards each other and the wider society. In his view, the increasing tendency towards individualism in modern society could lead to little social solidarity and possibly anomie. Parsons also recognized the social significance of education. He suggested that if forms a bridge between the family and the wider society by socialising children to adapt to a meritocratic view of achievement which is where pupils are rewarded in terms of their abilities and talents. Secondly skills provision is where it is believed that education teaches the skills required by a modern industrial society, these could be any general skills which everyone is considered to need such as literacy and numeracy - these could also include specific skills required by a particular occupation. And lastly role allocation, this is where education allocates people to the most appropriate job for their talents which is determined throughout examinations. This therefore ensures that the most talented students are allocated to the occupations that are the most functionally important for society. Overall the functionalist view states that education is very fair and is entirely used in order to allocate students in to the most correct work force which suits their abilities and is often criticized for failing to recognise the diversity of values in modern society and the extent to which the main beliefs of some groups, notably the powerful, are promoted through the education system.
The Marxist view on the other hand is very much the opposite of the Functionalist. In this case education is seen as an important part of the superstructure of society, it is seen to serve the needs of the economic base which contains everything to do with productions in society. For Marx education performs two main functions: to reproduce the inequalities and social relations of production in a capitalist society and to justify these inequalities through the myth of meritocracy. Louis Althusser (1971) disagrees that the main function of education is the transmission of common values and argues that education is rather an ideological state apparatus. This is where educations main function is to maintain, justify and reproduce, generation by generation, class inequalities in wealth...
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