The education system followed in various countries around the world are quite different & the reasons for these differences are generally historic. Systems have arisen out of specific needs at specific times; e.g. the teaching of reading is linked to the development of industry and the need for workers to be able to follow written instructions. Also ideological reasons for development of education - based on beliefs current at time about needs of children. Many sociologists critical of education system - assosciated with control more than educating children. 

Education - process collected knowledge of a culture passed on. UK all children 5-18 must receive an education - do not necessarily have to go to school - home schooling. 

Informal education:

  •  All societies educate children - parents in home or normal daily activity. Skills for adulthood. 

Formal education:

  •  Modern societies - highly developed education systems - professional educators working in complex institutions.
  • Prepares pupils for public examinations.
  • Significant debate at all levels of society - purpose of education - essential knowledge passed on.
  • Debates influenced by beliefs of people in power and their beliefs about knowledge given to children. 

Historical reasons for the development of education system: 

  • Number of historical and social reasons for an education system & why govs fund schools and colleges. 
  • Child labour - if children are in school then they are protected from exploitation by employers of child labour.
  • Vocationalism - children can be trained for work & needs of employers. 
  • Public Health - children from poorer families can be offered basic nutrition and encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Economic Trade - British manufacturing & business requires a trained workforce if to maintain position as world leader in trade. 
  • Military Capacity - Britain historically a military nation engaged in frequent wars abroad - required soldiers with basic education and good standard of health. 
  • Training in cultural values - requirement of schools to promote well-being and cultures of children - most educational legislations. 
  • Religious reasons - thought if children could be taught to read the Bible, would improve moral behaviour. 

Theoretical Debates:

Structural theory viewpoints - education - role it plays in society - top-down.

  • Functionalism - not critical of system. Education - tool - society sorts out children - most able take on best jobs. Education - meritocratic - ladder of opportunity for best students to achieve. 
  • Marxism - education - source of social inequality - tool - unequal social system. Inequality socialises people into accepting some have more access to power and wealth. 
  • Feminism - system oppressing women - exists to socialise children into traditional gender patterns - perpetuate gender inequality. 

Social action theories - relationships within school, how influence attainment. bottom-up.

  • Interactionism - relationship between teachers and pupils, and pupils. How teachers label pupils as succesful or not, impact labelling has on self-identity & self-esteem of pupils. Can appear deterministic - if suggests children not active participants in process.
  • Postmodernists - focus on what happens within schools. Teachers & pupils - 'constructors' of…


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