One of the roles of education is bringing up social development and social change in the society. This is brought about by the schools of thought such as the Marxists and functionalists. Education whether formal or informal is organized and conducted by the members of the society. The societys way of life is therefore passed on to the new generation through this medium. In this essay, I will evaluate the role of education in socialization with emphasis on how it reproduces and legitimize social inequality.
The aspect of educations socializing role
Education is a tool through which individuals are empowered. A student can evaluate and see how they transform through education. The collection of such transformation in many people leads to social change in the society (Brandfoot, 1996). The society thus relies on teachers and institutions to promote change or uphold traditions. In understanding the aspect of educations socializing role, three things are important; the society background, the content of change, and the agents of change.
The society is composed of various cultural groups whose values are embedded on the institutions and teachers. The teachers impart the societys values and inspiration into the students in the learning process. The schools socialize the members through training. Since education mostly begin with attending school at a young age, the childrens future is therefore molded by the schools. The idea of the content of change is split into those who believe that education is meant to maintain the status quo in the society and those that advocate for reforms and modernization.
The Marxists argue that education, just like religion, mass media and politics exist in order to provide the societys needs of economic foundation (Feinberg & Soltis, 2009). Without education or any other principle, the society would be unstable and eventually collapse. This theory notes that educations core functions are reproducing inequalities and social relations as well as justifying the existence of these inequalities through meritocracy. The ideology of state apparatus comes into play, where the society teaches its generations the values of maintaining class discrimination, wealth status, and authority. Eventually, education ends up clouding the minds of the learners who abide by the rules of the capitalist state. The education system therefore has a hidden curriculum where learners are taught on social class reproduction.
The Functionalism Perspective
This school of thought argues that education is a form of secondary socialization where students learn values and norms of maintaining societys value consensus. According to Collins (1974, p. 1005), functionalists argue that education performs the functions of creating social solidarity, teaching core values, teaching work skills, and allocating roles and meritocracy. Schools socialize students into belonging into something bigger. Acts such as pledging to the countrys flag as well as history subject creates oneness and social harmony. Additionally, students learn skills that are later applied at the places of work. Finally, functionalists note that through evaluations and qualifications the learners are allocated to the jobs that best suit them.
The Labeling Theories
Labeling theory refers to the process through which socially defined identities are adopted or imposed on individuals (Becker, 1963). This mostly occurs in deviant behavior and helps agencies of social control such as teachers and the police in using selective judgment while handling cases. This theory notes that the way people respond to deviant behavior is determined by previous conceptions and stereotypes. For example, juvenile crimes are more prevalent among poor performers in class as compared to high performers. Deviant careers thus stem from the labeling and social recreation processes. Children labeled as deviant would end up cast out of the society and eventually turn to crime in later years.
Meritocracy in the British Education System
Meritocracy refers to the functionalists view of education of providing opportunities to the people based on their ability to excel. In schools, students are evaluated through examinations and the best are prepared for plum jobs and eventually guided into becoming leaders in the society. Meritocracy holds that schools provide all children with the equal opportunity to excel.
The British education system has since 1945 operated on this principle. The system advocates in providing a uniform playground for all schools in terms of policies, infrastructure and common examinations (Chapman, 2004). In the United Kingdom, teachers are obliged to abide to set policies. Governors in the schools have the duty of implementing equity and effectiveness. The Qualification and Curriculum Authority administers and oversees all examinations. Finally, the government carries out frequent inspections on the extent to which schools offer equal opportunities for all students.
This essay sought to evaluate the role of education in socialization. The aspects of education as a socialization tool have been explored. Schools and teachers acts as the agents of socialization and end up imparting society values to the younger generation. The society thus ends up reproducing itself and legitimizing social inequality.
Becker, H. S. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York, Free Press.
Broadfoot, P. M. (1996). Education, assessment and society: a sociological analysis. Buckingham, Open University Press.
Chapman, S. (2004). Sociology. London, Letts and Lonsdale.
Collins, R. (1971). Functional and Conflict Theories of Educational Stratification. American Sociological Review, Vol. 36, pp. 1002-1019.
Feinberg, W., & SOLTIS, J. F. (2009). School and society. New York, Teachers College Press. http://public.eblib.com/choice/PublicFullRecord.aspx?p=3544960.
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