functionalist theory on education
The educational system, especially as experienced on university campuses, has traditionally provided a place for students to learn about various social issues. There is ample opportunity for social and political advocacy, as well as the ability to develop tolerance to the many views represented on campus. In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement swept across college campuses all over the United States, leading to demonstrations in which diverse groups of students were unified with the purpose of changing the political climate of the country. Social and political advocacy can take many forms, from joining established programs on international development to joining a particular party-affiliated group to supporting non-profit clubs at your school.
In the United States, schools also fill the role of preparing students for competition in life. Obviously, athletics foster a competitive ethos, but even in the classroom students compete against one another academically. Schools also aid in teaching patriotism. Students recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning and take history classes where they learn about national heroes and the nation’s past. The practice of saying the Pledge of Allegiance has become controversial in recent years, with individuals arguing that requiring or even expecting children to pledge allegiance is unconstitutional and as such may face legal challenges to its validity.  [/footnote]
There are several major manifest functions associated with education. The first is socialization. Beginning in preschool and kindergarten, students are taught to practice various societal roles. The French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), who established the academic discipline of sociology, characterized schools as “socialization agencies that teach children how to get along with others and prepare them for adult economic roles” (Durkheim 1898). Indeed, it seems that schools have taken on this responsibility in full.
School systems in the United States also transmit the core values of the nation through manifest functions like social control. One of the roles of schools is to teach students conformity to law and respect for authority. Obviously, such respect, given to teachers and administrators, will help a student navigate the school environment. This function also prepares students to enter the workplace and the world at large, where they will continue to be subject to people who have authority over them. Fulfillment of this function rests primarily with classroom teachers and instructors who are with students all day.
Another Marxists called Bourdieu criticises the Functionalist view by saying that not all the pupils have an equal opportunity. He believes that the more upper class values and mannerisms a person has (their ‘cultural capital’) the better they are treated and viewed within education. This creates a divide in education as those who are seen to be upper class are treated better than the working classes and therefore receive a poorer standard of education. This creates unfairness as ‘cultural capital’ works in favour of the upper classes and against the working classes.
Feminists also believe that most educational textbooks are designed for male pupils. Kelly believes that textbooks often contain images of cars and football throughout. Stanworth also said that teachers are more likely to give their time and attention to male pupils. This creates a divide as females are left out in the classroom and could receive a poorer standard of education. She also said that girls often underestimate their ability and lack confidence in themselves.
4. Role Allocation and meritocracy
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A functionalist’s perspective on education is to have a consensus perspective: examine society in terms of how it is maintained for the common good. A functionalist will put an emphasis on positive aspects of schools such as socialisation: the learning of skills and attitudes in school. Education helps maintain society by socialising young people into values of achievement, competition and equality of opportunity. Skills provision is also important: education teaches the skills for the economy. For example, literacy, numeracy and IT for particular occupations. Role allocation is all part of this: education allocates people to the most appropriate jobs for their talents, using examinations and qualifications.
Marxism believes that education teaches the values and norms of the bourgeoisie.