Outline Some Of The Key Tenets Of The Functionalist, Marxist and Interactionist Theories Of Education And Give Some Critical Evaluation Of Each
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Outline Some Of The Key Tenets Of The Functionalist, Marxist and Interactionist Theories Of Education And Give Some Critical Evaluation Of Each This essay is going to look at the Functionalist, Marxist and Interactionist theories of education and outline the key points; it will also provide some criticism in relation to each of the theories. Although the theories are mainly very different, they all have the similarity of suggesting that a person's social class will contribute greatly to how well they will do at school and also on how this will affect the type and importance of a career they may take up. Functionalism investigates institutions to consider the functions that they perform in society. The functionalist premise is that if an institution exists then there has got to be a reason for its existence. Functionalists assume that educational institutions serve some societal need; schools are examined for the positive contribution that they make towards maintaining society. Talcott Parsons suggested that educational institutions provide the function of general socialisation of the whole of the population into the dominant culture, values and beliefs of a society. Parsons also suggested that schools select people for different types and levels of education. He believed that education meets the needs of the system by making sure that all children have a basic commitment to their society's values and beliefs and also by preparing individuals for their specific roles within the social hierarchy.
Marxist theory suggests that one of the functions of education is to provide capitalists with a workforce that provides the most useful traits for them. The education system succeeds in achieving objectives mainly through the hidden curriculum. Bowles and Gintis suggest that high grades are awarded to the pupils who are punctual, consistent, dependable and persevering whereas low grades are given to the pupils who are creative, aggressive and independent, which means that grades are not awarded in accordance with the pupils academic abilities, but instead they are awarded depending on their personality traits. Another theory put forward by Bowles and Gintis is that there is a hidden curriculum which encourages an acceptance of hierarchy. The teacher is at the top of the chain of command and control and the pupils have to listen and conform. Pupils tend to not have any control in regards to the subjects that they study and they are used to being given orders from the teachers which they must obey. This prepares them for the social hierarchy that they will encounter when they go to work, where they will have to listen to orders form their managers and supervisors and they will have to comply with those orders, just as they do at school.
Likewise a student who is streamed onto a high level course and is expected to achieve, may want to rebel against what everybody else expects of them and so they may become a trouble maker and start to underachieve in order to defy the teacher who has typed them as an achiever. It is hard to understand what kind of effect labelling and streaming will have on a person, because everybody is different and just because some pupils are of the opinion that if they are going to be labelled as a troublemaker and streamed onto a low level course, then they might as well act as how they are expected to act and live up to the label placed on them, but this doesn't mean that all pupils who are labelled and streamed will behave in the same manner. In conclusion, all of the theories that have been outlined in this essay seem to agree that social class background plays a major role in educational achievement. Both functionalist and Marxist theories agree that the school plays the role of socialising students into the prevailing norms and values of a society. Interactionist theories are mainly concerned with the interactions that a student has with their tutor and fellow peers at school, if a pupil has negative interactions with a tutor, it will encourage them to perform badly in the subject.
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