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A comparison of the Marxists and Functionalists Approaches to Education

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A comparison of the Marxists and Functionalists Approaches to Education Marxists and Functionalists both believe that the school is a microcosm of society, and that it prepares pupils for their role in a capitalist society. Functionalists believe that this is a positive approach, whereas Marxists believe that this is negative. Both approaches believe that education is the crucial agency of socialisation. Marxists believe that socialisation is about getting the young people to accept their subordination in society and the inequalities in opportunity and wealth in their working life. The functionalists, on the other hand, think that socialisation I about learning the norms and values in our society about which there is a broad consensus. Education rewards on merit and we have a basically just and democratic. Functionalists believe that the education system has a function to fulfil in society. This function is to prepare people for their role in the work place. Durkhiem saw that the major function of education was the transmission of society's norms and values. In school children are taught how to interact with others, how to behave and to obey the authority figures, the teachers. This prepares the children for the world of work and how to accept the rule put down by the authorities. ...read more.


The students who conform will get the best grades, so it encourages the acceptance of the hierarchy. The subjects in school are fragmented and split up so the knowledge is also separated. This is mirrored in the world of work; each job is separated into tasks carried out by individuals. A functionalist would say that this is the best way for people to learn in school and to get jobs done. It makes it easier to learn, understand and complete tasks. They also argue that because the Marxist view was developed a long time ago it is no longer accurate because a lot has changed since then. The Marxists have been accused of exaggerating the connection between work and education. The Functionalists claim that much of modern work requires team work and the education system promotes competition and effort. Willis accepts the Marxist view that the education system is closely linked to the needs of capitalism. But he, unlike some Marxists, doesn't believe that there is such a simple relationship between education and the economy. He found that a number of children, mostly working class, rejected the hidden curriculum. They formed a counter school culture and had little respect for teachers, school rules or authority. ...read more.


Overall the Functionalist approach is strongest because it offers more than just criticisms. It explains why the education system is the way it is. Is has its weaknesses, but so does the Marxist view. Marxism is a conflict theory which isn't totally correct. Unfortunately the system is unfair; some groups of people are disadvantaged and more likely to fail through no fault of their own. This is what the Marxists are trying to say. Is should be fair and there should be an equality of opportunity, which the functionalists say this is, but there isn't. They believe in the hidden curriculum, where the children are taught to be subservient and obey authority with out question and give them respect when they get no respect back. This is probably true in most schools, but that just the way school is. There would be chaos if the children were equal with the teachers and did what they wanted, they wouldn't learn anything. It just they way things work best and nothing will change until an alternative is found. This is why the functionalist approach is stronger because it is the best way to do things. Some people have to have more power and better jobs. Children have to be told what to do or they wouldn't learn anything. ...read more.

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