Criticisms of the functionalist approach to education

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  • Criticisms of the functionalist approach
    • Socialising individuals
      • studies suggest not all pupils conform to values promoted at school
        • e.g. bullying, not taking part in lessons
      • assume education succeeds in socialising individuals
    • Single culture
      • functionalist view applicable for societies with single dominant and shared culture
      • in multicultural societies (different ethnic groups have different cultures and values)- hard to reconcile differences through education
    • positive not negative views
      • they ignore aspects that may be dysfunctional and benefit some social groups more than others
      • ignore conflict in education system and wider society
      • they emphasise positive effects and ignore negative aspects
    • Skills provision
      • controversy as to if British education teaches pupils right skills and success in pupils actually learning these skills
      • vocational education has low status in Britain- doesn't produce skills needed for economy
    • Globalisation
      • Pisa (2012) placed UL 26th out of 65 countries for maths ability among 15 yr olds, 23rd for reading and 20th for science
      • sociologists argue globalisation is increasingly significant
      • British companies and workers have to compete with companies around the globe- critics argue Britain lags behind in training workers
    • Fair meritocratic system
      • ignores social divisions and how gender and ethnicity might affect educational achievement
      • assumes all individuals have same opportunities for private education
      • claims education successfully allocates individuals to role sin fair and meritocratic way- this is disputed


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