By examining some of the manifest and latent social functions of education, this essay will try to answer the question Do Schools Work? and if not, what are the alternatives.

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Do Schools work?

Education plays an important part in everyone’s success in life. Historically, education was only for the elite. While everyone had the opportunity to learn, only the rich enjoyed a formal education. Most children did their learning at home, their teachers being parents, siblings and other relatives.  Children were taught what they needed to know in order to be a productive member of the socio economic class they belonged to. Children of people who had menial uneducated jobs did not attend formal school, instead they were taught hands on skills. By the end of the 20th century most of the world had become more institutionalized, resulting in a requirement of more educated individuals to work in establishments such as hospitals, banks and stores. The result...more schools to teach more people the required skills and knowledge. And with that emerged the ability for individuals to step out of their pre-determined life and make a better life for themselves by becoming more educated.  Since then schools have been filling the needs of modern day society. Not only do schools teach students the academic of reading, writing and arithmetic, it teaches children from a young age discipline, respect, morals and values which prepare them for work and helps them integrate into society. Many theorists have examined the sociological functions of education. By examining some of the manifest and latent social functions of education, this essay will try to answer the question “Do Schools Work?” and if not, what are the alternatives.

Schools classify students. Labeling occurs in schools as a result of the constant evaluating of the students. In most schools, students are grouped together by not only grade level, but by their academic level. The grade level is what actual grade they are in school; the academic level is actual level that they are working at. In one grade 1 class there could be 4 or 5 different reading groups. By grouping students by academic levels, schools are able to remediate students on a lower academic level, while still being able to advance students on a higher level in another classroom or area of the class. Having more than one academic level in a classroom can be difficult for the teaching staff, but can be handled by using differentiated instruction and having students who need more support have a teacher aid provide them with such. Students with emotional and behavior problems are often given access to what are called resource classes or can even be able to go to a school that is specifically designed for children of this nature.  In doing so, children are able to have a smaller classroom environment with more teachers to help them catch up to other children in their grade. This scenario can either have a positive or negative outcome. Robert Wegman talks about reference groups on his article “Classroom Discipline: An Exercise in the Maintenance of Social Reality.” Wegman says there are two outcomes for the lower academic student. “If classroom conditions make the low-IQ student think he can raise his status, he is less likely to feel relatively deprived” (Wegman 69). Or the student could feel discouraged and lower their performance even more.  

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Bourdieu would argue with Wegman, saying the groups are essentially developed for exclusion. Roy Nash explains Bourdieus theory, “working-class and cultural minority children, on average, fail in the school system because it is specifically designed to exclude them by neglect” (Nash 440). You can look at segregating students by academics or grade keeps everyone in their proper place. Many schools have to deal with low budgets, resulting in the lack of teacher assistants in the classroom. Those students struggling can be left behind due to the fact that there physically isn’t enough manpower to aid everyone. There is another choice ...

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