Marxism and Education

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Marxism and Education

  • Marxists challenge the functionalist approach
  • Althusser (1972): disagrees that the main function of education is the transmission of common values.
  • He argues education is an ideological tool and its main function is to maintain, justify and reproduce, generation by generation, class inequalities in wealth and power.
  • This is done through transmitting ruling class or capitalist views disguised as common values.
  • He argues this is done through the hidden curriculum (those things learnt in schools that are not on the formal curriculum such as punctuality, competitiveness and obedience).
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Marxism and Education: Bowles and Gintis

  • Bowles and Gintis (1976): what goes on in schools directly corresponds to the world of work.
  • Teachers are like the bosses and pupils are the workers, who work for rewards. This is called the correspondence principle and it provides the key to understanding the education system.
  • Eduction's function is to provide capitalists with a workforce.
  • For capitalism to succeed it needs a hardworking, docile, obedient and highly motivated workforce that won't challenge authority.
  • Education helps to achieve these goals through the hidden curriculum.
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Marxism and Education: Bowles and Gintis ***

  • The hidden curriculum works in the following ways:
  • it helps to produce a subservient workforce of uncritical, passive and docile workers.
  • it encourages an acceptance of hierarchy as schools are organised on a hierarchy principle of authority and control.
  • pupils learn to be motivated by external rewards just as the workforce are.
  • fragmentation of subjects relates to the fragmentation of the workforce where specific tasks are carried out by seperate individuals.
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Marxism and Education: Bowles and Gintis 3

  • Bowles and Gintis reject the idea that society is meritocratic.
  • They believe class background is the most important factor influencing levels of attainment.
  • Children of the wealthy and powerful tend to obtain high qualifications and highly rewarded jobs, irrespective of their abilities.
  • Those who are denied success blame themselves not the system.
  • Those who conform rise above those who challenge the system.
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Marxism and Education: Bourdieu

  • Cultural capital is the process whereby a dominant culture penetrates educational institutions.
  • Middle class children have an advantage because they have been socialised into the dominant culture.
  • Middle class pupils have the codes to unlock the mysteries of education.
  • Middle class parents have the knowledge of how to play the system in their favour.
  • Reproduction takes place via the socialisation of the young.
  • In effect, middle class kids grow up to have middle class jobs and so on.
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