Education: Marxism, Functionalism, New Right, Liberal

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The New Right on Education

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  • The New Right – conservative political perspective. Central idea of New Right thinking is the State cannot meet peoples needs and people are best left to meet their needs through the Free Market. They believe in the free market based on competition – ‘survival of the fittest’ basically. They are similar to functionalist – socialisation of shared values, meritocracy and different levels of talent, also believe education should be left to the free market or marketisation of education – competition between schools bringing diversity of choice and efficiency to schools to meet the needs of parents, pupils and the economy. Chubb and Moe – American schools have failed the disadvantaged groups, inefficient in meeting skills and private schools deliver high quality education because they are answerableto paying consumers- the parents. This has been behand the marketisation in the UK and provides a back cloth for Michael Gove. The State still imposes a framework eg OFSTED and League Tables and shared curriculum – The National Curriculum.

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Marxism on Education

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  • Marxist and other conflict views of the role and purpose of education: Education operates as an ideological tool; social control, ideology, hegemony, socialisation into conformity by coercion; Education as apart of the Superstructure – Althusser ‘Ideological State Apparatus’ Bowles and Gintis – Correspondence Principle – traits of schools 237 New York High School students – traits of passive docile workers, obedient, the type required for the capitalist system – Hidden Curriculum acceptance of hierarchy, extrinsic rewards. Paul Willis agreed that capitalism requires an ‘obedient’ workforce however his research showed the working class lads can resist such indoctrinate through anti-school subculture. Many sociologists see recent developments in vocational education and the introduction of specialist schools and academies as reflecting elements of Bowles and Gintis ‘correspondence theory’. Such initiatives may be viewed as supporting a hidden curriculum designed to promote a work-orientated ethos in such schools. The whole area of vocational education supports the work of Bowles and Gintis since it can be viewed as explicitly designed to meet the needs of employers. correspondence theory.

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Functionalism on Education

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  • Functionalist views of the role and purpose of education are based on the transmission of values Durkheim – social solidarity, transmitting culture for example teaching of a country’s history instills a child’s sense of a shared heritage and commitment to wider society. He also sees education teaches the specialist skills for divisision of labour in an industrial society. Skills required for training the workforce. Parsons – schools as ‘focal socialising agency’ – the bridge to adulthood – learning to be judged from the particularistic standards of the family to universalistic (impersonal ) standards. Achieved status rather than ascribed meaning that the most talented rise to the top through meritocracy. Equal opportunity although inequality of outcome. Davis and Moore- Like Parsons they see a second function of education is allocating pupils to job roles. Schools serve as a filtering system. Jobs such as surgeons need the most talented and therefore are well paid. Equally, least talented are still functional to society in less skilled roles. This is the Consensus approach to education, with education being part of the system that runs alonside other institutions such as family and the economy to have a smooth functioning society. Education produces good citizens with the skills for industrial society.

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Liberal Approach to Education

Liberal approach to education; movement in education which argues that students should be exposed to a wide range of academic disciplines in order to produce rounded critical thinkers. They are more concerned in the benefits to individuals learning how to learn. People need to think independently to participate in a democracy.

John Dewey – learning through experiment and observation rather than passively being fed by the teacher – foster initiative and confidence.

Ivan Illich - De-schoolers’ : This is about education for fulfilling true potential. This is based on the belief that most people learn better by themselves, outside of an institutional environment, at a self-determined pace. This is the meaning of the term as used by Illich. Rather than being taught through schools pupils can opt into centers taught by specialists. Another common criticism is that institutionalized schooling is used as a tool for the engineering of an ignorant, conformist, working class through constant schedules and prearranged time blocks and one-size-fits-all teaching methods. De-schooling removes this.

Illich’s ideas led to progressive education where children in the 1970’s led to pupils selecting a wide range of ideas of activities in open classrooms. However, making school optional is unlikely to occur, middle class parents may be more proactive in seeking extensive education for their children and therefore increasing the class divide.

Fordism- this was when capitalism required low paid and unskilled labour and the education system mirrored this (Bowles and Gintis). Post-Fordism –post-modernists would argue is based on flexible

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