The Role of education in society

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Compulsory Education For All.

  • State education for all has been available since the 1880, it was compulsory for children up to the age of 10.
  • Foster's 1870 education act, school boards could be set up in districts where school places were lfew in number.
  • 1902, school boards were replaced with approx 300 Local Education Authorites, by this time 20,000 board and voluntary schools served 5.6 million pupils.
  • Fisher Education Act,1918, state responsible for secondary education. Ateendance made complusory up to the gae of 14.
  • Currently, over 10 million 5-16 years old attend school in the UK
  • Driving force for the reform of education since 1870 has been percieved to be that Britain needs to stay competetive in the world and also be at the forefront of manufacture and improvement.
  • Intial hostility from some towards the idea of mass education, it was feared that the labouring classes would think their lives to be dissatisfying and this would then lead them to revolt.
  • Powerful Liberal Lobbyists, favour of education. They campagined for the poor as they saw education as being the way out of poverty and a basic human right.
  • 1960's, post-compulsory educationa dn higher education has expanded dramatically.
  • By 2002/3, Uk goverment expenditure on education was £53 billion, 13.5% of total Goverment erxpernditure.
  • Most sociologists agree that education is important but diagree on why this occurs and who benfits.
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Functionalist approach.

Education has three broad functions.

1) Socialization- Maintains society by socializing young people into key cultural values. E.G Achievement,social solidarity and equality of opportunity.

  • Durkheim- education should emphasis moral reponsibilities that members of society have towards each other and the wider society. His view, increasing tendency toward individalsim in modern society could lead to little social solidarity or a lack of shared norms.
  • Emphasis can still be seen today as religious eduaction has remianed compulsory and'Every Child Matters' agenda has been incorprated into tutorial work.
  • Parsons- eduaction bridge between the family and wider society, socializing children into meritocratic view of achievement.

2) Skill's provision- Teaches skills required by a modern Ind. society.

  • Divison of labour increases in complexity and occupational roles specialized, longer periods in education become nesscary.

3)Role allocation- Education, allocates people to do the most approiate jodb for their talents.

  • Critics qusetion the correspondence between occupational status and talent.
  • Functionalists criticised  for failing to recognize the diverity of values in modern society.
  • Also the extent of some groups,powerful, are promoted through the eduaction system.
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Marxist approach

  • Education, imporatnt feature of the superstructure of society.
  • It goes along with other institutions such as family and media, it serves an economic base which contains everything to do with production in society.
  • Education performs to main functions.

1) Reproduces the inequalities and social realtions of production of the capitalist society.

2) It serves to justify these inequalities through the myth of meritocracy.

  • Neo-Marxist Althusser (1971) education is an ideological state appraatus (ISA). Mian function to mainatin, justify and reproduce, class generations in wealthand power, by transmitting ruling-class or capitalist values as common values.
  • Education reproduces conditions needed for Capiltalism without using for force because then it would be exposed as oppressive.
  • Althusser, it is done htorugh the 'hidden curriculum'- WC people, encouraged to conform to the Capitalist system and accpet failure and inequality uncritically.
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Correspondence theory

  • Bowles and Gintis (1976)- education serves to reproduce directly the capitalist relations of production with the approiate skills and attititudes.
  • Edu ensures workers will just adapt to the needs of the system.
  • 'Correspondence theory' what goes on in schools corresponds directly to the world of work.
  • Higher up the system, individual gets more freedom they have to control their own educational of working exp, more responsibility they have for their outcomes.
  • Success not entirely linked to intelluctual behaviour but to conforming,not challenging the system.
  • This explains why white-middle class tend to do better regardless of their ability.
  • Education system disguises this through the ' myth' of meritocracy, those denied blame themselves not the system.
  • Hidden curriculum, makes inequality in society appear justified and fair
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Criticisms of Bowles and Gintis

  • Failure to recognise a lack of correspondence between schools and the needs of the economy, in particular the terms of the content of the formal curriculum.
  • Reynolds (1984) curriculum does not seem to be designed to teach ethier the skills needed by employers or uncritical passive behaviour that makes workers easy to exploit.
  • The survival of liberal humamities-based subjects and little emphasis on science and applied knowledge suggest a lack of correspondence.
  • Brown (1997) modern businesses requires shared creatvity and teamwork. HOWEVER the exam system in which people are tested and judged discourages these skills.
  •  Paul Willis's (1977) WC 'lads' learned to bahve at school in ways quite different to capitalism's need for obident workforce. Boys  shared a simliar outllook to the workers of  the factories that they were likey to work in.
  • They accepted that fact that they were going to fail so they developed stratergies to deal with the boredom of school.
  • Although they have been criticisied the freedom of teachers have been restricted by the mational curriculum and education has be come explicity designed to meet the needs of employers- BTEC's and New dipolomas.
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