Outline Some of the Functions That the Education System May Perform.

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Outline some of the functions that the education system may perform. (12 marks) Education system performs various functions and sociologists hold different and conflicting views. This however depends on their sociological perspective and the way they see the society. According to functionalists, education performs three important functions- creating social solidarity, teaching specialist skills and transmission of values. Durkheim argues that education system helps to create social solidarity by transmitting society’s culture- its shared belief and culture from one generation to next. He furthermore argues that education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge and skills that they need to play their part in the division of labour. Education is organised on meritocratic principles and rewards pupils’ ability, not their social background. However, functionalist perspective can be criticised as there does not always exist an equal opportunity in education. For example, achievement is greatly influenced by class background rather than ability. Furthermore, interactionist Dennis Wrong(1961) argues that functionalists have an ‘over-socialised view’ of people as mere puppets of society. Functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all they are taught and never reject the school’s values. Marxists, on the other hand, argues that education is mainly there to serve the needs of capitalism. Althusser, sees education as an ideological state apparatus that reproduces and legitimates class inequality, ensuring working-class pupils end up in working-class jobs, and that they accept their exploited role. According to Bowles and Gintis, this is achieved through correspondence principle which refers to the tendency of schools to promote the values expected of individuals in each social class so as to prepare students for the types of jobs typically held by
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