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Nov 28

In the early days of compulsory education, students learned the dominant culture. Some cite the alleged shift toward a culture that rewards effort instead of product, i.e., the amount of work a student puts in raises the grade, even if the resulting product is poor quality. By the end of this section, you will be able to: While it is clear that education plays an integral role in individuals’ lives as well as society as a whole, sociologists view that role from many diverse points of view. Similar trends are seen among salaries of professionals in virtually all industries. Society relies on schools to teach about human sexuality as well as basic skills such as budgeting and job applications—topics that at one time were addressed by the family. Conflict theorists point to tracking, a formalized sorting system that places students on “tracks” (advanced versus low achievers) that perpetuate inequalities. They argue that this role is fulfilled through the disparity of resources available to students in richer and poorer neighborhoods as well as through testing (Lauen and Tyson 2008). Solve the Problem perspectives focus on the power of education to address and solve social problems, and emphasizes the social sciences. World Development Report. 2011. For example, there has been a great deal of discussion over what standardized tests such as the SAT truly measure. When thinking about the … For example, you might notice an attractive fellow student when he gives a particularly interesting answer in class—catching up with him and making a date speaks to the latent function of courtship fulfilled by exposure to a peer group in the educational setting. This is a difficult match with education systems that adhere to a traditional curriculum that is more easily understood and completed by students of higher social classes. One of the roles of schools in the United States is fostering self-esteem; conversely, schools in Japan focus on fostering social esteem—the honoring of the group over the individual. He researched how cultural capital, or cultural knowledge that serves (metaphorically) as currency that helps us navigate a culture, alters the experiences and opportunities available to French students from different social classes. In this section, you will learn about each of these perspectives. Retrieved February 24, 2012. In the same vein, feminist theory focuses specifically on the mechanisms and roots of gender inequality in education. More and more, they find themselves in the position of educating new hires in abilities that, in the past, had been mastered during their education. 2007. When women face limited opportunities for education, their capacity to achieve equal rights, including financial independence, are limited. Perspectives in Education is a professional, peer-reviewed journal that encourages the submission of previously unpublished articles on contemporary educational issues. The fulfillment of one’s education is closely linked to social class. Usually focused on problem-solving experiences rather than completing a fixed curriculum. In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement swept across college campuses all over the United States, leading to demonstrations in which diverse groups of students were unified with the purpose of changing the political climate of the country. 2006. Global Perspective on Education Increasing global commerce and competition provides much of the fuel that drives the call for education reform. In any case, the issue is hotly debated, with many being called upon to conduct research to help us better understand and respond to this trend (National Public Radio 2004; Mansfield 2005). Though experts in testing claim that bias has been eliminated from tests, conflict theorists maintain that this is impossible. World Bank. This function is referred to as social placement. The most capable students are identified early in schools through testing and classroom achievements. You can read more about the Approaches to Home Education at World Family Education. Starting each day with the Pledge of Allegiance is one way in which students are taught patriotism. The labeling with which symbolic interactionists concern themselves extends to the very degrees that symbolize completion of education. These tests, to conflict theorists, are another way in which education does not provide opportunities, but instead maintains an established configuration of power. Schools are trusted to know how to produce successful citizens, and this task is outsourced to the schools. Conflict theorists view education as a means of widening the gap in social inequality. This socialization also involves learning the rules and norms of the society as a whole. Such a situation leads to social class reproduction, extensively studied by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. As a journal that represents a variety of cross-disciplinary interests, both theoretical and practical, it seeks to stimulate debate on a wide range of topics. Most educational systems will be influenced by one or more of the prominent guiding philosophies or views of what educational outcomes should be, how those are achieved, and who should play the various roles in the process. Functionalists believe that education equips people to perform different functional roles in society. Retrieved February 24, 2012 ( There are several major manifest functions associated with education. Many families haven’t considered theories of learning because these philosophies are deeply ingrained in their home culture or highly controlled by their government. Education also provides one of the major methods used by people for upward social mobility. This function also prepares students to enter the workplace and the world at large, where they will continue to be subject to people who have authority over them. Merton, Robert K. 1968. These characteristics are rarely associated with children who attend traditional schools, though I have developed these attributes by going to a progressive school. Also, in many contexts, education is seen exclusively as the domain of the school, and parents will take little note of the school’s foundational values. (Photo courtesy Thomas Ricker/flickr). UNESCO. The teacher’s authority in the classroom is a way in which education fulfills the manifest functions of social control. Feminist theorists point to evidence that sexism in education continues to prevent women from achieving a full measure of social equality. But it would be unwise to press this too hard. To correctly answer this question requires certain cultural knowledge—knowledge most often held by more affluent people who typically have more exposure to orchestral music. Education Week. Iverson, Jeremy. To conflict theorists, schools play the role of training working-class students to accept and retain their position as lower members of society. You might recognize elements of the following perspectives as you begin to understand the educational philosophy of the options you are considering. On a Monday, he’s assigned a paper that’s due Friday. Mansfield, Harvey C. 2001. A place to explore educational options while living internationally. They contend that education contributes two kinds of functions: manifest (or primary) functions, which are the intended and visible functions of education; and latent (or secondary) functions, which are the hidden and unintended functions. Students recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning and take history classes where they learn about national heroes and the nation’s past. Obviously, such respect, given to teachers and administrators, will help a student navigate the school environment. Functionalists see education as serving the needs of society by preparing students for later roles, or functions, in society. “Tracking.” Education Week, August 4. Another role of schools, according to functionalist theory, is that of sorting, or classifying students based on academic merit or potential. 2004. Rather, they believe that the educational system reinforces and perpetuates social inequalities that arise from differences in class, gender, race, and ethnicity. The major sociological theories offer insight into how we understand education. A symbolic interactionist might say that this labeling has a direct correlation to those who are in power and those who are labeled. Lauen, Douglas Lee and Karolyn Tyson. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner/flickr). Such students are placed in accelerated programs in anticipation of successful college attendance. You can learn more about their mission, as well as the latest in news on test bias and fairness, at their website: One of the problems he identifies in his research is that of teachers applying labels that students are never able to lose. Credentialism embodies the emphasis on certificates or degrees to show that a person has a certain skill, has attained a certain level of education, or has met certain job qualifications.

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