Functionalist explain the education system by studying the relationship between education and other social institutions.
Education makes a contribution to the whole of the social system and does not function alone
This approach is closely linked with the demands of economy and employers for an educated and skilled workforce, ever conscious that if they do not exist, our competitors will ensure that they can provide the correct workforce. our economic success depends on our workforce
Pupils learn general knowledge, gain specific training and have to take examinations which allow employers and university and college tutors to select the best people for the most appropriate jobs and higher education
Functionalists see education as preparing young people for the world of work and teaching them skills for future occupation.
Education also prepares people for interaction with others so the necessary personal and social skills are reinforced at school.
Education changes as technology and work develop.
Education therefore follows the needs of the world of work.
Schools are also responsible for teaching a sense of social involvement and commitment.
Young people need to learn a social conscience.
Durkheim expounded this idea in the late 1800's and his functionalist view of education has been influential in the sociology of education for many sociologists
Pupils also learn about the culture of their society, what is acceptable and what is not.
This part of their education may be formal, such as in relgious education lessons or informal, such as through the stufy of the society's literature or history.
Pupils learn what is accpetable in their soceity - in other words what is consensual, shared values and beliefs.
A cultural identity forms part of their education as well as knowledge of acceptable behaviour in terms of age and gender.
Parsons sees the school as a 'bridge' between society and family.
The family is responsible for the primary socialisation of a child, as they teach the child the family's values. The school develops these values still further.
In schools, cooperation, the acquisition of rewards for achievements and the chance of acquring skills for the world of work are all part of the school's responsiblity.