Critically consider the manifest and latent functions of schooling.

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Critically consider the manifest and latent functions of schooling. Schooling has many functions in society and by looking at these functions from a sociological view point there are two main kinds of functions to consider - "manifest functions" and "latent functions". The "manifest functions" of schooling is what people believe are the obvious purpose of school and education. The "latent functions" of schooling are the things that people are not so aware or about or perhaps don't come to mind straight away when they consider what and schooling is for. These ideas will be considered and critiqued as some will be more beneficial than others but need to be looked at in greater detail and how it affects children's lives at school. The qualification-award function of schooling is now looking as something that is overshadowing the main educational function of schooling and is considered detrimental by some as there seems to be more emphasis on getting qualifications that might not necessarily be needed for occupations which children will encounter later in life. Finally, disaffection and alienation from school will be considered as to what function this is playing in schooling as some children did not fit in to the expectations of the school.


People tend to accept these differentiations as they accept that the allocation of employment is based on "merit" and that without certain qualifications or skills that they are limited to which occupations they can undertake. Schools have also adopted this "meritocracy" as children are made to take tests and exams from a young age at school. By the time their education finishes, if they do not have a certain qualification or certificate they themselves openly accept that the lack of these will close off some future education and occupation prospects for the future. Bowles and Gintis (1976) believe that factors such as social class, education or wealth of parents are not important in influencing the success of children in education. Legitimization of inequalities by schools shows that "rightly or wrongly, success and failure are generally believed to be based on merit". (Mackinnon, 2003, p. 146) Advocates of mass education in Britain and America in the nineteenth and early twentieth century believed that just enough education would help create a better workforce when the children were older. In some occupations such as computer programming or surgeons, the selection of children based on "merit" to further education and employment is accepted as these are


You also have examples from Viv Furlong in the mid 1970's when she conducted a study to observe the function of school. There were girls misbehaving and cheeking the teachers-on the one hand teachers thought them to be a "difficult class" whereas the pupils believed that the teachers should be disciplining them and that their behaviour was a "response to boredom in the classroom" (Mackinnon, 2003, p. 156). The reasons leading to this type of behaviour is perhaps that the girls thought of themselves as rejects of the educational system due to being in a "secondary modern school" and therefore have less educational ability. In conclusion, the "manifest functions" of schooling is not giving the full picture of its purpose and it might not do what it is supposed to do. Schooling can be dysfunctional for the society at times with pressure on pupils to perform to a certain level or to a capability which they may not have and consequently are punished for this. The "manifest functions" may not be the most important functions for us as a society either which is why the "latent functions" need to be acknowledged by society as sometimes they can be the most important functions of them all in a world where a lot of emphasis is placed on economical productivity.

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