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Outline and assess the view that the main purpose of education is to encourage individual achievement whilst maintaining social solidarity.

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Introduction

Outline and assess the view that the main purpose of education is to encourage individual achievement whilst maintaining social solidarity. The above statement reflects the functionalist view of the purpose of education. The following essay will outline the functionalist perspective of the role of education and identify any criticisms made of it. Education is an agent of secondary socialisation. Writing at the turn of the last century the French sociologist Emile Durkheim saw the major function of education as the transmission of society's norms and values. He maintained: "Society can survive only if there exists among its members a sufficient degree of homogeneity; education perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by fixing in the child from the beginning the essential similarities which collective life demands" (Durkheim, 1961) -In other words education provides the norms and collective vales for children that are needed in society. Durkheim argues that in complex industrial societies, the school serves a function that cannot be provided either by the family or the peer group. Individuals must learn to cooperate with those who are neither their kin nor their friends. The school provides a context where these skills can be learned. As such, it is society in miniature, a model of the society system-Schools are microcosms. In school, the child must interact with other members of the school community in terms of a fixed set of rules. ...read more.

Middle

Also PSE is taught in British schools. The aim of these lessons is to make you conform and to make you feel part of your community - Citizenship. From a functionalist perspective there is a link between education and wider society. Through examination and the pupils own individual achievement, pupils will in theory come out of school and go into the right jobs- Education sorts pupils into their role into the economy. Durkheim believes the education system provides workers with the skills required by the economy. From a functionalist perspective this function is especially important in industrial society with its increasingly complex and specialized divisions of labour. The relatively unspecialised division of labour in pre-industrial society meant that occupational skills could usually be passed on from parents to children without the need for formal education. In industrial society, social solidarity is based largely on the interdependence of specialized skills. The necessity for combination of skills produced cooperation and social solidarity. Thus schools transmit both general values and specific skills. The New Vocationalism is the term given to a range of education and training policies, which emerged in the 1970's and 1980's. The New Vocationalism includes various training schemes and qualifications - all aimed at providing non-academic school leavers with vocational qualifications or training. The courses included, such as the Youth Training Scheme (YTS), Certificate in Pre Vocational Education (CPVE) ...read more.

Conclusion

Marxists believe that capitalists control the proletariats. The French Sociologist Althusser (1965) claimed that education is largely run in order to socialise children into an acceptance of their subordinate class position- Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). The major American writers in the Marxist tradition, Bowles and Gintis (1976), argued the educational systems exist to reproduce the workforce needed by the Capitalist classes. School produces pupils who are subservient, who accept authority, who are motivated by external rewards - wages and who lack knowledge of the external work process - accepts the preparation of the workplace. These are all the things that a capitalist workforce requires. Based on what is discussed during this essay I am more in favour of the functionalist view of education, e.g. there is a link between education and wider society and that pupils will in theory come out of school and go into the right jobs etc., even though Marxists may have some valid points e.g. Schools produce pupils who are motivated by external rewards such as wages etc. I believe the functionalist perspective does offer the opportunity to move outside of the class structure and expectations, allowing for a Comprehensive pupil to achieve position of wealth and power e.g. within business or politics. I think Society has to believe there is opportunity for all in order for it to function properly. ...read more.

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