Sociology and Education

Topics: Sociology, Education, Social class Pages: 6 (1738 words) Published: November 27, 2013
Education is the process by which knowledge is imparted, skills developed and abilities trained. It is used to prepare citizens for various roles demanded by social institutions, such as family, government and economy ( Schaeffer, 2001). A society’s survival depends on the ability of its members to maintain and pass on the culture to succeeding generations (Preston & Smith, ) Education is an ongoing process that takes place in all locations, such as while watching television, attending religious services or visiting places of interest. Education happens everywhere and is a lifelong process ( Arends, 1998)

In agrarian societies, children were educated by imitating adults. While imitative learning and informal training fit the needs of small societies, they are ineffective for larger technological societies where there are advanced economic and culturally diversed population. Highly specialized occupations have arisen and new forms of technology have been created which demand a higher level of human judgement and knowledge ( Giddens, 1990). As a result, skills needed in today’s society cannot be left to chance, thus the process of education has become informal and learning is now organized into a curriculum and taught for a specified number of years in institutions such as schools and colleges. Formal education is provided by teachers, lectures and professors.

This essay examined and critiqued Durkheim’s functionalist perspective and the Marxian’s perspective to education. The views of a random sample of primary school teachers to Durkheim’s functionalist perspective were examined to determine the implications of their views to educational reform in Barbados. were analysed. The functionalist view was selected because their educational reform created structures, plans and curriculum that were technically advanced , rationale and promoted social unity ( Balantine & Spade, )

To adequately accomplish this task, a few terms were defined. Socialization is the process by which we acquire our social characteristics and learn ways of thinking and behaving that are acceptable by society (Giddens,). A value is a belief that an idea or behaviour is good and desirable whereas a norm determines what is acceptable or unacceptable in a given culture or situation. A society is an independent grouping of people who participate in a common culture. A culture is the way of life to the people of a society; it is also the collection of ideas and habits that they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation. The hidden curriculum refers to the principles or behaviours that are considered proper by society and taught subtly by the school(Kendal, ). Meritocracy refers to the structured inequality in which there is equal opportunity to compete for inequal rewards and power (Giddens, ).

To Durkheim, education performed the following functions: enforced discipline, preserved the society, encourage value concensus, used the division of labour to maintain the status quo (Blackledge & Hunte, ). There is a relationship between society and its institutions, changes in society is reflected in education (Soltis & Freiberg, ). Schaeffer concurred by stating that education is an agent of change. To Durkheim, education is ‘the influence exercised by future generations on those not yet ready for social life ( Blackledge & Hunte, year ,p.13 ). It is the spreading of society’s norms and values needed for group life( Haralambos, ). Durkheim emphasized cultural and social reproduction which was the maintenance of social order needed for the preservation of society. Through education students were socialized with basic norms, thoughts and similarities of their culture to ensure homogeneity ( Blackledge & Hunte, ). Children were confronted with codes and practices which governed their behaviour. They learnt how to relate to teachers and fellow students and how to live in a group which...
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