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The Functionalist Approach
Explain the development of the education system by examining the
relationship between education and other social institutions, and
the contribution education makes to meet the functional needs of
the social system as a whole
The economic function
Education systems respond to the demands from employers for
educated and skilled labour. This investment in human capital
produces economic growth which allows further investment in
The education system prepares people for the world of work by:
Providing general training for work
Providing specific training for particular jobs
Allowing employers to use exams to select people for jobs
Producing future workers with suitable attitudes
The socialisation function
Children are prepared for jobs and as members of society in general.
Education transmits culture. This may be deliberate and formal, e.g. in
religious education classes or informally through the study of literature
and history. This includes consensual norms and values shared beliefs
and often a national or other cultural identity.
Pupils learn appropriate roles associated with age, gender and class.…read more

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The Marxist Approach
Marxists see the education system, both the institutions
and the ideology as part of the superstructure of
capitalist society. Socialisation serves the interests of
the economic role. Marxism is a structuralist-conflict
theory, whereas functionalism is a structuralist-
consensus theory.
Bowles and Gintis
Applied Marxism to modern capitalism in the USA. Their
correspondence theory link the home, school and
workplace. Examples of the correspondence between
school and work include:
Pupils rely on teachers for knowledge as workers rely on
Both school and work use external rewards rather than job
satisfaction to motivate and control.…read more

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Comparison of Marxism and
Both approaches study education by looking at its
relationship with the whole social system.
Both link education with the economy. Marxism sees
education as reproducing capitalism, whereas
functionalists see education meeting the needs of
industrial society. Functionalists emphasise training
and role allocation whereas Marxists emphasise the
production of deskilled obedient workers
Both identify a cultural reproduction role. The
functionalists stress the integrative effects of
teaching consensual values, whereas the Marxists
talk of the transmission of ruling class ideologies
which keep the working class falsely conscious.…read more

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The New Right Approach
This approach has two sometimes contradictory
They think that applying the principles of the
free market will improve the standards and
efficiency of education. This might lead to more
parental choice and involving the private sector
in the running of schools
They believe in traditional teaching methods
and curriculum. Anti-racism, anti-sexism and
multiculturalism in the curriculum are
condemned. The teaching of literature and
history should emphasise English nation glory.…read more

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The Hidden Curriculum
The curriculum is the sum of learning experiences offered by
schools. The hidden curriculum provides the unofficial and
sometimes unplanned consequences of school experience.
It includes:
Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs gained in the classroom
­ this could include unintended sexism and racism in
school books
The organisation of the school which will have people at
the top (often white middle class males) exercising
control; this also applies to relationships between
teachers and pupils
Rules ­ teachers control space and time; you need
permission to pass time unless doing an approved task;
some spaces are denied to pupils; lavatories may be a
refuge but are liable to inspection.
Examiners Secrets ­ The concept of the hidden curriculum was originally a critical
Marxist term. Now feminists use it in a critical way and teachers in a neutral way.…read more

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