Assess the Contribution of Functionalism to Our Understanding of the Role of Education. Essay

662 WordsSep 23, 20123 Pages
In order to assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of the role of education we need to look at the functionalist ideas of education on which we can base some of our understanding. First of all we need to look at the basics of education according to the functionalists. It can be said that functionalists take a positive view on education. They see it as a form of secondary socialisation that is essential in order to uphold society. Functionalists say that it provides vital social functions such as transmitting shared norms and values while equipping pupils with the skills and habits required to be effective in the workplace. Functionalists state that schools act as a connection between family and work while reflecting equal opportunity and individual opportunity that can be found in wider society. It gives all pupils a chance to develop their talents to aid in selecting the best pupils for the hardest but best paid jobs. Functionalist thinker Emile Durkheim who is also thought of as the founder of functionalism identified two main functions of education, these are solidarity and skills. He argues that society needs a sense of solidarity in order for individuals to feel a part of a single community. He argues that without social solidarity, social life and co-operation would be almost impossible due to the selfish nature of the individual. He argues that the education system creates a sense of social solidarity by transmitting society’s culture. In other words working as an agent of secondary socialisation. It works to share this culture from one generation to the next. For instance he argues that by learning history an individual may feel a sense of shared heritage and a wider social commitment. He also argues that school acts like a miniature society which helps to prepare us for emergence into wider society. It does this by creating scenarios
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