Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Assess the Claim That the Main Function of Education

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Assess the claim that 'the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society' Functionalists believe that education is a value consensus, which means that the majority of a society agree with this statement. For example, inadvertently, people in the UK agree that wearing clothes is a norm as is education. Education has many purposes such as secondary socialisation of children and allocation of roles, because of the meritocracy which education is also seen as.

Functionalists, like Durkheim, believe that teaching about history in schools creates a link between the individual and society. This link allows the individual to feel 'part' of the society and therefore is more likely to support this. For example, in the U. S children are taught about the founding fathers and give the pledge of allegiance daily. Also, this is used with religion, in the U. K many schools says prayers and sing hymns and other religious songs. This, often, instils the idea of religion into the child's mind and it becomes a part of the child.

However, teachings such as these can be seen as deviant and unwanted by parents because of how these things are treated as 'norms' whereas they might not be in the home. This creates social solidarity because of the increased number of shared 'norms and values'. Furthermore, Parsons says that school is the bridge between family and the wider society. Because in the family you are treated as an individual based upon particularistic traits whereas in society you are based on your merits.

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School is a blend between the two and allows a consensus of your merits and your personality. However, that blend is more between students and students than students and teachers. Teachers base students more on their merits, hence the meritocracy of school and the wider society as it is a quicker and easier way to assess people. This lead to the beginning of the education triage where pupils where 'streamed' into classes of varying difficulty depending on their intelligence. However, Marxist's like Althusser, Bowles and Gintis argue that the role of ducation is the “reproduction of labour power” i. e. a workforce. This is enabled by use of the hidden curriculum – This is where 'norm's such as doing repetitive tasks, not complaining and maintaining order in a class are taught but not formally as these are merely blended into every lesson. This is further exaggerated by schools legitimising and justifying inequality. This prepares students for the world of work where they are exploited for cheap labour and do as they're told as indicated by the hidden curriculum.

They are also prepared for the inequality between them and their bosses in the social/economic hierarchy and accepts their positon. Legitimation of inequality; helps to justify and explain the system of social inequality in a capitalist society, helps people come to terms with their position in society and therefore reduces the discontent and opposition to inequality. Althusser saw the role of education as a reproduction of technical skills and a reproduction of the ruling class ideology. . e. the dominant beliefs and values which is the wealthy minority 1% and the majority 99%. This allows the 99% to accept the 1%'s ideology. To prevent rebellion against capitalism, people must believe that the ruling class ideology is beneficial to themselves. This done by a number of ideological state apparatuses like the media, religion and education. These outlets of information can control masses because they have been 'trusted' staples of society which are seen as beneficial.

However, all of these outlets show the ruling class ideology and justify the capitalist system. The system can give several messages out to society such as behaviour, fashion, education standards, when to accept or submit to authority and to accept your place/position in society. Despite, these views Marxist's have been seen as too deterministic. As, the give education more credit for its influence on children. For example, the hidden curriculum may not exist and many children don't care for rules, authority and choose to rebel at these things.

Whilst the hidden curriculum maybe exaggerated, the formal curriculum maybe under exaggerated as it is not entirely designed to benefit ruling class ideology as with subjects like philosophy, sociology and arts which are designed to encourage various views and opinions with critical thinking on how and why. Neo-marxists, like Willis, show that some students at school who are rebellious and prioritise “avin' a laff” are the ideal candidates for the ruling class ideology as they treat education as a barrier between “avin' a laff” and socialising.

Because they prioritise their friends they lose the benefits of education and are forced, in order to survive, to accept work which maybe dull/repetitive (as taught by the hidden curriculum). Often, the type work these people undergo are manual labour jobs which enable the 'lads' to be together and “av' a laff”. The end product is a capitalist society getting a proportion of the population doing dull work and the 'lads' are able to stay together as they have created their own class position.

Durkheim, also argues that education prepares young people for adult roles such as learning to cooperate with people who they might not like. Schools trains people to follow a set rules which accommodate tolerating people who they don't like. Functionalists, assume that stratification/some sort of social hierarchy is vital and inevitable. Because there are only limited places for top jobs. By a meritocracy which allows people to be test judged on ability those with the highest ability are about to be placed in jobs which match their talents/abilities.

Assess the Claim That the Main Function of Education essay

Related Questions

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Is the main function of Education to maintain a value consensus?

that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society is portrayed by different sociologists in different ways e.g. feminists believe that to maintain a value consensus in society, patriarchy needs to be abolished.

What is the main function of Education in society?

believe that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society. The term value consensus means that the majority of society agree. For example in the United Kingdom people believe going to school and getting a education is a norm: this is a value consensus.

What is a value consensus?

A Value Consensus is an agreement among society’s members about what social values (such as getting qualifications, learning job skills, etc.) are important.

What is the main function of education according to Parson?

Furthermore, he argues that education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge and skill that they need to play their part in the social division of labour, therefore the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society. Parson views education as being part of a Words: 462 - Pages: 2

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