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Assess the role of education form the functionalist perspective

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Introduction

Assess the role of education form the functionalist perspective Functionalists believe that education performs very important roles for individuals, the economy and the wider social structure. It provides secondary socialisation, passing on shared culture enables individuals to develop their potential and regulates their behaviour. Functionalists argue that education has three broad; socialisation where education helps to maintain society by socialising young people in to key cultural values, such as achievement, individualism, equality of opportunity, social solidarity and democracy. The second one is skills provision in which education teaches the skills required by a modern industrial society. These may be general skills that everyone needs such as literacy and numeracy or the specific skills needed for particular occupations. And the final function is role allocation, where education allocates people to the most appropriate jobs for their talents using examination and qualifications. This is seen to be fair because there is equality of opportunity, everyone has the chance to achieve success in society on the basis of their ability. ...read more.

Middle

Educational mechanisms such as grades, examinations, references and qualifications are used to sort individuals. Society is this a meritocracy in which people are rewarded for intelligence, ability and effort. Functional importance is decided by length and specialist training required for particular occupations. It is claimed that to be a brain surgeon, for example takes much more talent, education and training than to be a nurse. Therefore in order to ensure that people are prepared to undertake long and expensive training, the rewards offered must be substantially greater for surgeons than for nurses. "A medical education is a burdensome and expensive that virtually none would undertake it if the MD did not carry a reward commensurate with the sacrifice" (Davis and Moore). Inequality is therefore functionally necessary. If everyone had the same levels of pay and status no one would be prepared to take on the most difficult and responsible jobs, it is argued. ...read more.

Conclusion

The functionalist's view that education provides pupils with the skills for work has also been criticised. Since these are often not acquired at school but from additional trainings by employers. New right thinkers and some labour politicians, criticise schools for teaching things not relevant for work. Others argue that education really only has a baby-sitting or control function. It's a way of controlling young people and of allowing parents to go out and work. Functionalists are useful in drawing attention to the many functions education can perform but they are probably wrong to see them as well-being for the goods of individuals and society as a whole. For example it may be only the ruling class who benefit from education producing a docile workforce. From another perspective, interactionists would argue that they have an over socialised view of individuals and that we cant see education in terms of 'functions' anyway we should look instead at how individuals interact with schools rather than seeing education as a thing which shape the individuals in societies interests. ...read more.

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